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Chaussee suits bad for taxpayers

Register • Jun 24, 2013 at 7:49 AM

When the city of Sandusky sent out cease-and-desist letters in 2011 ordering Cedar Point Chaussee property owners to stop renting their homes, many in the community believed it would be in the best interest of the city to amend its outdated zoning laws to allow such rentals that bring in tourist dollars.

When the city's five-member zoning appeals board voted unanimously to issue a special permit to Ann and John Arnold to allow them to continue to rent out properties they have refurbished on Curran Street, many said the city should work to find similar common ground with Chaussee property owners. 

But the city did not heed the warnings it would be difficult to lawfully restrict property owners from leasing their homes and pushed forward seemingly oblivious to the inevitable legal challenges that would ensue. 

The lawsuits were filed shortly thereafter and two years later the property owners were vindicated — once again — when Ohio's Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled the city overstepped its authority and was indeed violating the rights of property owners. 

It was a no-brainer from the beginning, but the city's decisions ended up costing taxpayers at least $50,000 in fees to lawyers who accomplished nothing. 

We believe a better way to have spent that money would have been to demolish five abandoned and vacant homes in the city, improving the quality of life in five different city neighborhoods.

Now the city must decide whether to appeal the court's decision yet again and continue lining the pockets of private lawyers whose advice has proved to be self-serving, or acknowledge the mistakes and find that common ground with the property owners it refused to talk with previously.  

This is one fight the city can't win, and can't afford to continue, but if past is prologue that makes no difference to Sandusky's leaders when working for special interests.

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