The Ohio Department of Natural Resources told 10TV Tuesday they “will file an appeal in response to the court’s recent ruling on the Sawmill Wetlands.”
Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Brown decided September 2 that development company JDS So Cal Ltd. should receive the title to the Sawmill Wetlands by the end of the month.
The City of Columbus gave the Wetlands to the state to keep as public park. The state wanted to trade the 17 acres of the Sawmill Wetlands for 43 acres next to Highbanks Metro Park.
The contract signed by Governor Kasich agreed that if JDS So Cal purchased and restored the land near Highbanks Metro Park, they could swap that land for the “prime real estate” of the Sawmill Wetlands, according to court documents.
In 2012, Governor Kasich objected to the signed contract and the state withdrew from the contract, according to Judge Brown.
JDS So Cal sued the state and won a summary judgment. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources was ordered to hand over title to the developer. The land will cost the developer nothing, not counting past legal fees. Developers Jim Schrim and David Ruma form JDS So Cal Ltd.
“Thanks to Gov. Kasich, Attorney General Mike DeWine, and the Ohio DNR, the state of Ohio is continuing the fight to protect and preserve this land for the public. Thousands of citizens are demanding that our state leaders do all they can to protect this natural gem. Today, those voices were heard loud and clear. We will continue to work tirelessly with the public to save the Sawmill Wetlands for current and future generations,” said the Ohio Environmental Council’s Executive Director Heather Taylor-Miesle in a statement to 10TV.
“We’re not terribly surprised,” said developer’s attorney, Rex Elliot. “The governor signed a crystal-clear contract four years ago. We’ve fought this for four years and we’ll fight as long as it takes.”