Suit filed in Ellsworth zoning case

By Peter H. Milliken


A specially appointed deputy zoning inspector for Ellsworth Township is seeking an injunction to compel a landowner to cease alleged township zoning-law violations.

The township’s lawyer, Mark S. Finamore, filed the civil lawsuit Wednesday, seeking the injunction on behalf of the inspector, Michael P. Kurilla Jr.

The suit was filed against Basista Holdings LLC in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court and assigned to Judge James C. Evans.

It concerns an 18-acre undeveloped property on state Route 45 and a 5-acre property at 5620 Gault Road, both owned by Basista, of which David J. Lewis is the registered agent.

Lewis and his wife, township Trustee Laura Lewis, live on the Gault Road property, which is Basista’s mailing address.

“My understanding is whatever violations were there have been remedied,” said the Lewises’ lawyer, Tim McGarry of Cleveland.

McGarry said the lawsuit surprised him because a previous lawyer for the Lewises appealed Kurilla’s findings to the township zoning-appeals board, which hasn’t yet scheduled a hearing on the matter.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to bar “storage of large, unused, abandoned metal storage containers” on the state Route 45 property and to force removal of the “Ellsworth Coal Refuse Reclamation Project” sign on the property.

The sign refers to a project at a former coal tipple that ended in July 2007, and it no longer needs to be displayed, an Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman has said.

The state erected the sign, however, and it’s up to the state to remove it, McGarry said.

The suit asks that the injunction also bar storage of a commercial and industrial shipping container and tires, scrap metal, junk, refuse and debris the suit says occupy the Gault Road property.

The shipping container the lawsuit refers to contains hay for the Lewises’ horses and is a permitted agricultural use, McGarry said.

The suit asks that Basista be barred from having a 2,560-square-foot outbuilding for nonagricultural use on the Gault Road property without zoning and occupancy permits.

Wednesday’s lawsuit follows an August lawsuit by 27 township residents or real-estate owners against the township and its trustees and zoning inspectors, which demands abatement of alleged zoning violations on the two properties. The August lawsuit is pending.

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