Judge Tone dismisses complaint against Sandusky

SANDUSKY The Sandusky Yacht Club will get what it wants. Erie County Common Pleas Jud
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



The Sandusky Yacht Club will get what it wants.

Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone on Tuesday dismissed a complaint filed by Timothy Schwanger, president of Save Our Shoreline Parks.

Schwanger asked the court to prevent the city of Sandusky from going through with a plan to give public lakefront property to the yacht club to settle a lawsuit the club filed against the city last September.

The yacht club's lawsuit dealt with a sliver of public land on the western half of Perry Street, north of Water Street. The club wants the land for additional parking.

The city commission announced May 18 it intended to vote to give the 132-foot long piece of land to the yacht club as a partial settlement.

According to the settlement, the club would also get expanded water rights to build docks for large boats in the water north of the Surf's Up property and the option to build a 120-foot building -- possibly condominiums.

During the 45-minute hearing, Schwanger and his attorney, K. Ronald Bailey, argued the city could not enter in the settlement with the yacht club because it violates the public's due process.

Schwanger based his argument on the original city map that designated the disputed land "to remain forever" public.

Bailey and Schwanger also argued there was a potential conflict of interest among members of the seven-member city commission. Ex-officio mayor Craig Stahl is a former member of the yacht club, while commissioner Dan Kaman owns nearby property that could increase in value if the city gave its land to the club. Commissioner Julie Farrar also has relatives who own property near the yacht club.

Steve Friedman, who represented the city, said the commission was well within its legal rights to give the land to the yacht club.

"Obviously I'm happy that we won, but it's always heartening when a judge really takes the time to understand the issues and rule for the right reasons, which I think he did," Friedman said.

Friedman said Save Our Shoreline Parks could still challenge the actions of the city commission by asking for a referendum on the settlement ordinance.

Tone ruled if there is a conflict of interest, the state ethics board would determine it, not a court. He also ruled the city commission has the right through Ohio law to sell and lease lands in its jurisdiction, regardless of what the original plat stated.

Sandusky City law director Don Iscman dismissed Schwanger's concern of a potential conflict of interest.

"I don't think there is a conflict ... if we thought there was a conflict and we so advised, we'd hope (the city commission) would follow our advice," said Icsman.

Schwanger declined comment and did not indicate what his next move would be.