The seventh district court of appeals of Mahoning County has ruled against Mill Creek MetroPark in a dispute over a land dispute for construction of a bike trail that would run through several property owners yards

Mill Creek Park was planning to use the land to further the development of a bike trail that would have ran from Western Reserve Rd. in Mahoning County going south into Leetonia. 

The court ruled that Mill Creek Park does not have the right to take land by eminent domain, and that the benefits of the bike trail, does not outweigh the damage done to the property owners. 

While the bike trail would promote public benefit and transportation, the courts ruled that did not justify the appropriation of private property.  

Property owner Diane Less and twelve other landowners property would have been affected by the park's construction of the bike trail.


Lake to River Greenway


"The park does not have the legal right to just take people's property for their use," Less told 21 News. "Very few people use it and it seems very frivolous to destroy family farms."

Less is the third generation of her family that lives on her property that would have been disrupted by the bike trail, as well as the livelihood of landowners around her. 

"It's great that our rights are being respected," Less told 21 News about the courts ruling in her favor. 

Less told 21 News Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio State Senate, Ohio House, Rep. Al Cutrona, Rep. Tim Ginter, late Rep. Don Manning, Senator Mike Rulli, The National Association of Realtors, Ohio Township Association, and the Ohio Farm Bureau all back the 13 landowners.

"Now on Thursday, the court of appeals just joins that list," Less said. "Governor DeWine wants family farms to stay in Ohio. This is a big deal."

Less also said that she was unwilling to part with her land over a bike trail, even with the park offering each property owner thousands of dollars. 

"I'm not interested in sharing my house or losing my backyard, it's not right," said Less. "The reality is, I don't want their money. I want my peace. I want my property and my peace."

"It's not right," said Mike Cameron, farmer in Green Township. "Somebody to use your money to take your land that you don't want to part with."

The bike trail would have went through Farmer Mike Cameron's property where he raises his cattle.

"It would have affected my whole business," Cameron said. "My pasture is on the other side of the right away. So, that would affect the free flow cattle to come and go as they please. That would all be fenced off. They would not be able to move on their own. I'd have to manually move them across their right of way. I'd be responsible for damage to the right of way if they damage it."

Cameron said another component of the park adding the bike trail through his property was the liability aspect. 

"You're always liable," Cameron said. "No matter now much it's posted, somehow and someway, someone is going to sue if something happens on your property."

Mill Creek Park Executive Director Aaron Young told 21 News that they are working to determine what the next steps for the bike trail will be, and if there are any alternative plans for the bike trail. Less and Cameron said the park could easily extend the bike trail down Washingtonville Road, which doesn't interfere with any personal property. 

Less and Cameron are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel but assume this might not be the end of the fight.

"They'll fight back," Cameron said. "They've just had the mentality from day one that it's theirs and they're taking it."