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Speedway L.L.C. v. Planning Commission City of Berea

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

August 8, 2013

SPEEDWAY L.L.C., ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
v.
PLANNING COMMISSION CITY OF BEREA DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-780197

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Anthony J. Coyne Tracey S. McGurk Bruce G. Rinker Mansour, Gavin, Gerlack & Manos

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Anthony R. Vacanti John P. Slagter Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs

BEFORE: Rocco, J., Stewart, A.J., and E.A. Gallagher, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

KENNETH A. ROCCO, JUDGE

{¶1} After purchasing real estate from Westbridge L.L.C., Speedway L.L.C. ("Speedway) (collectively "appellants") submitted an application to the Planning Commission, city of Berea ("Planning Commission") seeking approval to build a gasoline station in the city of Berea ("the City") at 880 North Rocky River Drive ("the Site"). The Planning Commission denied Speedway's application. Appellants appealed the decision in the court of common pleas. The common pleas court upheld the Planning Commission's ruling. Appellants now appeal to this court, asserting that the common pleas court erred in upholding the Planning Commission's decision. We agree with appellants and so we reverse and remand the final judgment.

{¶2} At the time that Speedway proposed to build the gas station in October 2011, the Site was zoned General Commercial. According to § 300.5(a)(iii) of the Berea Zoning Code ("the Zoning Code"), gas stations were a permitted use on land zoned General Commercial. The City was in the process of updating its zoning map when it received Speedway's application, and the City planned to rezone the area where the Site was located. Under the yet-to-be-enacted revisions to the Zoning Code, a gas station would be a prohibited use on the Site.

{¶3} Speedway sought a number of approvals from the Planning Commission: the Site-plan approval; approval to demolish the existing structures on the Site; approval of two height variances; approval of two different signs; landscaping approval; and lighting approval. The Planning Commission first considered the approvals on January 5, 2012, and voted to deny the Site-plan approval. The Planning Commission later agreed to Speedway's request to reconsider its application.

{¶4} At the reconsideration hearing on March 1, 2012, the Planning Commission approved Speedway's request to demolish the existing structures on the Site, and its request for the two height variances. The Planning Commission tabled consideration of the other items, including Site-plan approval.

{¶5} On March 15, 2012, the Planning Commission again denied Speedway's motion for Site-plan approval. The Planning Commission's decision was memorialized in a document that was filed in the common pleas court, entitled "Conclusions of Fact."

{¶6} Appellants filed an administrative appeal in the common pleas court, challenging the Planning Commission's decision. In its cursory order denying the appeal, the court of common pleas did not cite to any evidence in the record, nor did it articulate any supporting rationale based on the record. Appellants filed their notice of appeal in this court, setting forth four assignments of error for our review:

I. The Planning Commission's decision to deny Speedway's application is unconstitutional, illegal, arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable based upon the record and warrants reversal on the merits.
II. A preponderance of substantial, reliable, and probative evidence, taken as a whole, does not support the common pleas court's decision to affirm the Planning Commission's ruling.
III. The common pleas court erred in summarily denying Appellants' request to present additional evidence to the common pleas court in support of its argument that the Planning Commission's ...

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