Newton Falls Board taking legal action to have restraining order dissolved
The Newton Falls Exempted Village School Board held a special meeting Saturday morning to take action on a temporary restraining order (TRO).
The TRO was filed on May 1 after the School Board conducted a public auction to sell a board-owned piece of property in April.
The 42-acre property was donated to the School Board in 1987 by Don Cook and Nils Johnson for educational or public purposes that the school board deemed proper.
According to the deed, if the land was not used for those purposes within ten years, the property was supposed to automatically go to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for "maximum enjoyment of the general public."
The sale to the bidder has not been finalized because of the TRO. The TRO "restricts any further action to be taken by the Newton Falls Board of Education regarding the sale, auction, or timber of approximately forty-two acres of land."
The Board claims Judge Ronald Rice extended the TRO on May 24 without the Board's consent.
The Board also says that Judge Rice extended the TRO indefinitely on August 13 without the Board's consent.
The Board of Education filed a motion to dissolve the TRO on September 30 due to the restraining order being extended beyond the time period allowed by Ohio law.
According to the Board, Judge Rice gave notice to the Board that the motion to dissolve will be heard on November 20.
The Board says the continued enforcement of the TRO has caused the winning bidder to withdraw their bid. The Board claims that the TRO has decreased the market price of the timber, resulting in the harm of the Board.
During the Saturday morning meeting, the Board authorized the law firm of Pepple & Waggoner, Ltd. to commence legal action on the Board's behalf against Judge Rice to dissolve the TRO.
A statement from residents involved with the lawsuit reads:
"The resolution passed today makes a mockery of the democratic process and the last three words of the Pledge of Allegiance," said Werner Lange, one of the litigants seeking to save the trees, "first the meeting was held at 7 a.m., and then absolutely no public comments were permitted. Secondly, the resolution itself is filled with factual errors. But most importantly, it continues the Board's foolish waste of public funds to pursue illegal action in violation of deed restrictions imposed by donors on this property. We urge the public to vote against the school levies unless the BOE withdraws this foolish action at its next meeting, honors the will of the public, and finally saves the trees from slaughter."
The Board of Education will have its monthly meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m.