Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Trumbull
RICHARD A. EDWARDS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
PLALAN LAKE ROAD MAINTENANCE, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
Appeal from the Trumbull County Court of Common Pleas, Case
No. 2014 CV 00627.
P. Murphy, and Matthew G. Vansuch, Harrington, Hoppe &
Mitchell, Ltd., (For Plaintiff-Appellee).
C. Nader, Nader & Nader, (For Defendant-Appellant).
R. WRIGHT, J.
This appeal is from an entry granting summary judgment in
favor of appellee, Richard A. Edwards, on all issues in his
declaratory judgment claim. Appellant, Plalan Lake Road
Maintenance, Inc., argues that the trial court erred in
calculating the amount of yearly fees Edwards is required to
pay for the maintenance of private roads within a housing
development. For the following reasons, the judgment is
affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.
In 2005, Edwards purchased ten distinct tracts of land in the
Plalan Lakes and Park subdivision. This housing development
was formed in 1961 when Morris Goldsmith executed a quitclaim
deed in favor of Albert A. Wickley, Jr., in regard to a
substantial parcel of land in Farmington Township, Trumbull
County, Ohio. Under its original plat, the subdivision had
eighty-eight building lots intended for residential homes,
larger tracts of land for a park/resort area, and at least
five private roads.
Pursuant to the terms of the "Goldsmith" quitclaim
deed, Wickley agreed to take the entire parcel subject to
certain restrictions. One restriction addresses the
"recreational" area and the maintenance of the
"No owner of a lot in this subdivision shall have any
interest in or right to use the recreational area or lake
area in this subdivision as shown upon the plat recorded in
Plat Volume 27, Page 8 of the Trumbull County Records unless
he is the owner of an interest in such recreational area or
lake area holding a deed or certificate evidencing such
interest therein. * * * Each owner of a lot as described
herein shall, in the event he is not the owner of a
certificate or deed evidencing an interest in the
recreational area and lake area in this subdivision, pay the
sum of Twenty Dollars ($20.00) per year annually upon such
date as may be determined by the owner or a Board of Trustees
established by such owner, for the purpose of the maintenance
of such private roads and the payment of taxes on the area
comprising such roads."
During the first decade of the subdivision's existence,
steps were taken to develop the recreational area of the
proposed park/resort. However, a majority of the land
comprising the recreational area remained undeveloped.
Moreover, Albert A. Wickley, Jr. did not retain ownership of
the undeveloped recreational tracts or the unsold
"building" lots. At some point, these parts of the
subdivision, plus the land upon which the private roads were
located, were conveyed to Plalan Lake and Park, Inc.
Sometime in the 1990's, appellant was formed as a
separate corporate entity for the express purpose of taking
ownership of the subdivision's private roads and
providing for their maintenance. Initially, Plalan Lake and
Park conveyed the property comprising two of the private
subdivision roads to appellant. However, ownership of the
remaining three roads, including Lake Road and South Park
Road, stayed with Plalan Lake and Park until August 2001.
These two roads conveyed to appellant intersect. Under the
original plat, one corner of the proposed recreational area
abutted the intersection. In addition, three of the large
tracts forming the recreational area were adjacent to the
entire length of South Park Road. As to the section of Lake
Road that was adjacent to the corner of the recreational
area, six building lots abutted the road on the other side.
As of 2001, none of these six lots had been sold to an
individual owner for construction of a house.
In August 2001, Plalan Lake and Park executed a general
warranty deed in favor of Albert A. Wickley, Jr., conveying
to him ten adjoining tracts of land within the subdivision.
Six of the tracts were the vacant building lots that abutted
the northernmost section of Lake Road. The remaining four
tracts formed a significant portion of the land which had
been designated as the recreational area on the original
plat. Of those four tracts, three were the large parcels of
land that were adjacent to the entire length of South Park
The general warranty deed to Wickley contains terms labeled
"Covenants." The "Roads" covenant
governing the payment of road maintenance fees states:
"Grantee shall pay the current equivalent value in
dollars of One Hundred (Year 2000) Dollars ($100.00) per
year, for each 200 ft. road frontage which such owner owns,
for road maintenance, annually, to the Grantor and its
assigns on the date, and upon such terms as the Grantor and
its assigns shall determine and direct."
In relation to the subdivision roads, the covenants in the
"Wickley" general warranty deed provided:
"Grantor reserves the right to convey any road on which
the above described premises has frontage to Plalan Lake Road
Maintenance, Inc. In the event of such a conveyance, the
bylaws of said ...