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Sugarcreek Sour At Wal-Mart Win
by Ron Davis
A favorable local law has allowed Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., to expand its Sugarcreek, OH, store despite determined opposition.
The store is located at Sugarcreek Plaza shopping center, and the shopping centerís owners had eagerly approved Wal-Martís plans to expand for grocery sales there.
Such an expansion, however, required the shopping centerís owners to acquire 2.32 acres of adjacent land. And when they did, neighboring property owners objected on grounds that the acquisition for that purpose violated Sugarcreek zoning laws.
The 2.32 acres are zoned for planned development in a business district. In other words, the owners can use that land for ďbanks, department stores, apparel shops, supermarkets, and restaurants.Ē
Nevertheless, opponents of the expansion argued that it was not in conformity with applicable zoning restrictions. Moreover, they added, the expansion proposal had not been properly designed nor submitted for zoning approval.
They subsequently sued Wal-Mart and the shopping centerís owners in an effort to prevent the Wal-Mart expansion.
A county court dismissed the lawsuit on grounds that the land acquisition and Wal-Mart expansion were proper and legal. The opponents appealed.
An Ohio appellate court concurred with the county judge, explaining, ďAs the area was already zoned properly, Wal-Mart and the shopping centerís owners merely sought to develop a permitted use within the already zoned area. Therefore they did not have to comply with further procedures as they were not attempting to create a planned development district. As such, we agree with the lower court that there is no evidence that the proposed expansion is in violation of a regulation or provision adopted by the Sugarcreek township.Ē (Lofino Properties, L.L.C. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2004 WL 225473 [Ohio App. 2 Dist])
Decision: February 2004
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