YOUNGSTOWN – A jury has awarded a Green Township man about $ 6,000 more than Mill Creek MetroParks in compensation for gaining right of way to about a mile of a former railroad bed he owns near his house on Calla Road , have offered.
The jury of seven women and one man awarded Thomas Hough US $ 62,975 for the right of way on the former track bed and US $ 6,000 for a smaller package. MetroParks offered about $ 63,000 for the former railroad bed and about $ 35 for the smaller lot.
The jury deliberated almost 90 minutes on Wednesday morning before making a decision. The trial started on Monday morning.
MetroParks filed an appropriation suit in the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court after negotiations over the price Hough would pay failed.
MetroParks is acquiring the right of way for part of a cycle path with an eminent domain. In this case, this resulted in the case being tried by jury before Judge Tim Welsh, who works for Judge R. Scott Krichbaum.
Aaron Young, executive director of MetroParks, said in April that the land needed to build the 6.4-mile third phase of MetroParks’ cycle path in southern Mahoning County is land owned by 13 people , five of which have settled with MetroParks.
The suit of appropriation that MetroParks has filed with a joint appeals court against the resident of the Green Township, Diane Less, has been linked to appeals since last year.
The former railroad bed that Hough owns occupies 8.4 acres, which he bought in 1992 after Conrail abandoned the railroad in the 1980s.
Hough and his attorney Molly Johnson, a part-time Mahoning County judge, argued during the trial that MetroParks’ supply was under $ 500,000 or more due to the value of the soil and cinder on the property.
However, Ted Roberts, an attorney for MetroParks, told the jury during the opening statements that the evaluation conducted on behalf of MetroParks found that “the soil and slag had no added or intrinsic value.” He said the materials are “simply part of the property.”
In 2018, the MetroParks board passed a resolution according to which its members “consider it necessary and in the best interest that MetroParks complete phase III of the cycle path”.
MetroParks commissioned a feasibility study in 1996, prior to the construction of Phases I and II, which found that the best option for building Phase III was along the same former railway corridor as Phases I and II, according to MetroParks.
Phases I and II lead through Austintown, Canfield and Canfield Township. The third phase will continue from the Western Reserve Road to the Mahoning County Line near Washingtonville.
The Mahoning County Bike Path is part of the 110-mile Great Ohio Lake-to-River Greenway, which begins on the shores of Lake Erie and runs south to the banks of the Ohio River in East Liverpool.