Flats eminent domain trial opens
May 7, 2007
Cleveland, Ohio - Developer Scott Wolstein is "a wolf in sheep's clothing'' who is using the Cleveland port authority to illegally seize land for his $230 million neighborhood development on the Flats east bank, lawyers for property owners say.
Monday morning marked the start of the controversial eminent domain trial in Cuyahoga County Probate Court, where the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County port authority is suing to take nine properties for the development.
Landowners say Wolstein has not bargained in good faith. The port's court filings detailed protracted but fruitless talks with the owners, who say the port is offering too little for their land.
In the trial's first phase, Judge John E. Corrigan must find that the port and landowners have reached a stalemate on price, that the parcels are needed for a legitimate public purpose and that the port has the authority to take the land.
If Corrigan finds that those standards are met, then the trial goes to a second phase in which a jury will decide on land prices. Both sides have submitted witness lists totaling more than 80 people. The first phase is expected to take several weeks.
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