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Watson v. City of Cleveland

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

May 25, 2017

DAVID D. WATSON PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
CITY OF CLEVELAND, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES

         Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CV-15-845662

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT John P. Slagter Tara J. Rose Anthony R. Vacanti Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES For City of Cleveland Barbara Langhenry City of Cleveland Law Director By: Carolyn M. Downey Assistant Director of Law.

          For East 123 St. Properties, Ltd. John W. Monroe Bruce G. Rinker Mansour, Gavin, L.P.A.

          BEFORE: Keough, A.J., Kilbane, J., and S. Gallagher, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE.

         {¶1} Appellant, David D. Watson, appeals from the trial court's judgment affirming the decision of the city of Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals that granted four area variances to East 123 St. Properties Ltd. to allow it to build a six-story 204-unit apartment building on a small lot in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Background

         {¶2} East 123 St. Properties Ltd. is the owner of property located at 1862 East 123rd Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Visconsi Companies is the developer for the project at issue. The property is located in a B-2 semi-industrial district.

         {¶3} In October 2014, Visconsi submitted a building permit application for the project to the city of Cleveland's building and housing department. The building and housing department denied the permit application and issued a notice of nonconformance.

         {¶4} Visconsi appealed the notice of nonconformance to the city's Board of Zoning Appeals (the "Board"). The Board held a public hearing on January 5, 2015, and heard testimony from various interested parties. Many documents, exhibits, and correspondence were also submitted at the hearing. The Board held another lengthy hearing on May 4, 2015, where it heard additional testimony. After the hearing, the Board voted in favor of granting the requested variances for the project. The Board adopted and ratified its decision on May 11, 2015.

         {¶5} Watson, who lives in a townhome directly across the street from the proposed project, appeared at the hearings and testified in opposition to the variances. He subsequently appealed the Board's decision to the common pleas court pursuant to R.C. Chapters 2505 and 2506. After the parties filed briefs, the trial court affirmed the decision of the Board. The trial court's decision in its entirety stated, "[t]he decision of the city of Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals is hereby affirmed." Watson timely appealed the trial court's judgment.

         {¶6} This court sua sponte returned the matter to the trial court for the court to conduct the review required by R.C. 2506.04 and enter a judgment capable of appellate review. In our journal entry, we explained that because of the lack of detail in the trial court's entry, we could not determine on what basis the trial court had affirmed the Board, and could not conduct the review required of us by statute in an administrative appeal.

         {¶7} Upon remand, the trial court issued another entry affirming the ...


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