Thursday, March 29, 2001

Mason can proceed with tower

But final decision yet to come

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Mason can continue site preparation for its 175-foot water tower in Deerfield Township, a court ruled Wednesday.

        Warren County Common Pleas Judge P. Daniel Fedders on Wednesday allowed six township residents to join Deerfield Township trustees in a lawsuit against Mason, but denied both parties' request for a temporary restraining order to stop construction.

        The ruling allows city officials to continue prepping the site on Mason Road for construction, but it is not a final decision on whether Mason must abide by the township's zoning laws or deed restrictions placed on the property.

        Judge Fedders is expected to make a final ruling on the case by the end of May.

        “We think the judge was 100 percent right in his decision and we are obviously very pleased,” said Mason Law Director Ken Schneider. “We felt all along the law was on our side and we hope to prevail when the judge makes his final decision on this case in a few weeks.”

        Bulldozers razed a house and other structures on the six-acre parcel last week to make way for the water tower. City Manager Scot Lahrmer said contractors are at the site laying the tower's foundation.

        Mason officials said if Judge Fedders had granted either of the restraining orders, the city would have lost as much as $200,000 because of the delay.

        Township trustees said they weren't surprised Judge Fedders refused to grant the restraining orders. However, trustees said the judge will face a much tougher decision in determining the ultimate fate of the water tower.

        “We've got home-rule laws, zoning laws and individual deed covenants all involved in this case,” said Trustee Larry Backus. “If you start overturning all of those, there is absolutely no protection for individual property owners in Ohio against this sort of thing.”

        Cincinnati Attorney Jack Greiner, who represents the six homeowners involved in the suit, said he would meet with his clients soon to discuss their next move.

        “I don't know that you can say that (Judge Fedders') ruling today colors what his future ruling might be,” Mr. Greiner said.


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