Judge confirms ruling but criticizes Newton Falls BOE for tree removal
A Trumbull County Judge has confirmed the previous decision on a property owned by the Newton Falls School.
A group of people living near the area filed a lengthy appeal to stop the sale of the 42-acre property that contains hundreds of trees.
The temporary restraining order (TRO) had been filed in May to stop the public auction.
Judge Ronald J. Rice reluctantly decided to uphold that the group of residents had no legal standing while commenting on the school board.
In the document, Rice states, "the Court is reluctant to approve the action of the Board as the Court finds the same is short-sighted and fueled by alternative gains."
Rice continued, "Not only is the Board's initial action of culling the natural resources questionable as not in line with the original grantor's purpose, the additional expense of taking this litigation to the next level during the pendency of this action is even more questionable."
The property was initially donated to the Board in 1987 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 Board of Education filed a motion to dissolve the TRO on September 30 due to the restraining order being extended beyond the period allowed by Ohio law.
Rice continued with criticism of the Board in the document stating, "Perhaps if this Board was a bit more cautious in its fiscal responsibility, it would not need to resort to such drastic measures as culling trees to find the Newton Falls Schools. Unfortunately, the Board has repeatedly demonstrated fiscal and environmental responsibility are not considerations."
Judge Rice granted the motion of Newton Falls and wrote that the amended petition would be dismissed upon confirmation of the decision.