Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
CAROL A. VANG, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
CITY OF CLEVELAND, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS Paul J. Cristallo Cristallo &
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES For City of Cleveland Barbara
Langhenry Director of Law, City of Cleveland By: Carolyn M.
Downey Assistant Director of Law.
Thomas Lenghan Thomas Lenghan, pro se.
BEFORE: Keough, A.J., Stewart, J., and Celebrezze, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE.
Appellants, Carol A. Vang, Andrew P. Philbin, and Luis S.
Sandoval (collectively "appellants"), appeal the
decision of the common pleas court that affirmed the decision
of the city of Cleveland Board of Zoning Appeals (the
"Board") granting an area variance to
defendant-appellee, Thomas Lenghan ("Lenghan"). For
the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.
Background and Procedural History
Lenghan owns real property located at 1535 Vine Court in
Cleveland, Ohio. In October 2015, he applied for a permit to
construct four new townhomes on the property. The city of
Cleveland Department of Building and Housing denied the
application and issued a notice of nonconformance. The city
predicated the denial on Cleveland Codified Ordinances
("C.C.O.") 337.031(g), which requires a 20-foot
rear yard abutting a residential district. Lenghan proposed
only a five-foot rear yard for the townhouses.
Lenghan appealed the denial to the Board. After issuing
public notice, on February 29, 2016, the Board held a public
hearing at which it heard testimony and accepted documentary
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted 3-1 to
grant the area variance. It subsequently ratified its
decision in a written decision stating:
[T]he Board finds that the owner has established that: there
are practical difficulties due to the fact that the lot is
substantially more shallow than others on the street, only
one variance is requested, the neighboring properties have
similarly shallow rear yards, the townhouses will positively
impact property values, the proposed development is
consistent with the neighborhood, which is very densely
developed, and the City, Councilman, Block Club and Ohio
City, Inc. all support the project as being consistent with
the zoning code and the City's plans for the neighborhood
and therefore denial would deprive the appellant of
substantial property rights and the variance is consistent
with the purpose and intent of the zoning code.
Appellants appealed the Board's decision to the common
pleas court pursuant to R.C. 2506.04. The trial court
affirmed the Board's decision, finding that the
Board's decision "was supported by a preponderance
of reliable, probative, and substantial evidence, " and
was not "unconstitutional, ...