Appeals court rules in favor of city of Kent in park dispute

River bend park draws suit from neighbors

Record Courier Staff Report Published:

Ohio's 11th District Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court's ruling that three city boards did not act improperly by allowing the city's parks department to build a canoe launch and parking lot off of River Bend Boulevard.

In February 2011, Kent residents James and Diana Sumner filed an appeal with the Portage County Court of Common Pleas regarding decisions by the city of Kent's Board of Building Appeals, Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission, which allowed Kent Parks and Recreation to build a 12-car parking lot and canoe launch at River Bend Park. The court rejected the Sumners' appeal, calling the actions of Kent's boards and commissions "lawful, reasonable and supported ... by evidence on the whole record."

The 11th District Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's findings earlier this month after the Sumners filed an appeal claiming the Court of Common Pleas made five errors in its ruling.

The Sumners' appeal stated, among other errors, the trial court had failed to recognize that the Board of Building Appeals failed to consider damage to wetlands and riparian areas by the parking lot and that a boat launch is not a conditionally permitted used in an "open space-recreational district" under Kent's Zoning Code.

According to the 11th District Court of Appeals opinion written by Judge Timothy P. Cannon, all five of the complaints were without merit. Judges Diane Grendell and Mary Jane Trapp concurred with the opinion.

According to the ruling, court costs will be taxed against the appellants.

The Sumners had previously argued before the city's boards and commissions that the lighting and traffic at the parking lot would negatively impact the River Bend neighborhood.

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