City loses appeal

Sandusky spent $50K fighting renegade Cedar Point Chaussee property owners in court.
Andy Ouriel
Jun 19, 2013
The Chaussee property owners targeted by the city got vindication this week after two years battling with Sandusky's lawyers and other property owners over whether they had the right to rent out their swanky digs to tourists.
 
A ruling by the Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals found Sandusky officials unlawfully attempted to restrict the property owners from letting others stay in their houses, affirming an earlier ruling by Erie County Common Pleas Judge Tygh Tone.
 
The ruling — rebuking city commissioners and Sandusky’s zoning appeals board — will allow Doug Ebner to once again lease his Chaussee property on a short-term basis to tourists visiting Sandusky. 
 
“As local property owners, we are pleased to see that the court of appeals chose to take a common-sense approach,” said Ebner, who battled the city in court. 

The city spent about $50,000 in the unsuccessful effort to limit Ebner and others, city finance director Hank Solowiej said. 

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The city launched the legal battle after other Chaussee property owners complained about Ebner’s short-term rentals.

It’s not known what direction city commissioners will take on the issue now.

They’re scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 222 Meigs St.

“They’ll want an explanation of what happened from (city-hired attorney) Bill Lang,” Sandusky’s law director Don Icsman said.

Lang handled most of the legal proceedings involving the Chaussee homeowners. It’s standard practice for commissioners to contract out legal work since the Sandusky’s law department only has three employees — a lawyer, paralegal and assistant.

Payback

Ebner said the city was fighting a losing battle from the beginning and should have known that. The city wasted $50,000, he said, and likely feels no remorse for the entire debacle.

“Because the city was playing with house (taxpayer) money, it was poised to continue to fight this fight when there was no real common-sense basis to do so,” Ebner said. “Unlike the city, myself and other property owners had to dig into their own pockets to defend these matters.”

Ebner said he wants restitution.

“Now that the final decision has been issued, I would hope the city would do the right thing and reimburse the property owners for the tens of thousands of dollars they spent in defending these prosecutions,” Ebner said.

Chaussee lawsuit timeline:

• Summer 2011: The Chaussee controversy started when city officials told several property owners they violated Sandusky’s zoning code by letting vacationers pay to stay at their homes. City-approved cease-and-desist letters ordered homeowners to immediately stop renting out properties or face criminal punishment.

• Fall 2011: Most homeowners tried appealing the order to Sandusky’s zoning appeals board. Board members, including chairman John Feick, eventually agreed with the city’s original ruling, restricting Chaussee homeowners from renting out their luxurious pads.

• January 2012: Curran Street residents Ann and John Arnold, who received cease-and-desist letters also, received a special permit granted by the city’s zoning board, allowing them to continue renting out their homes to tourists. Chaussee homeowners said they deserve the same treatment but never obtained it from board members.

• March 2012: Chaussee homeowners Doug, Mark and Julia Ebner threatened to file a lawsuit against the city.

• September 2012: Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone sided with the embattled homeowners, effectively overruling a previous decision by city officials. He cited the city’s definition of a transient or temporary rental is poorly written and vague.

• Fall 2012: Sandusky officials, including city manager Nicole Ard, appealed Tone’s decision by filing a case with Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals

• November 2012: City officials altered Sandusky’s zoning code, limiting areas where local homeowners can rent out their homes to tourists as the lawsuit weaved its way through court. The change directly stems from Tone’s decision.

• June 2013: Appeals court judges sided with the homeowners and ruled against city officials.

“The fact remains that the trial court (in Erie County) did not err as a matter of law when it found that the language employed in that effort is unconstitutionally vague,” the ruling states.

 

Comments

Julie R.

Back to the tinfoil hat bit? Geez. Isn't that also what Jimmy Dimora said about the FEDS? (chuckle-chuckle)

Nemesis

If the hat fits, Julie...

Julie R.

I still say too bad the city of Sandusky doesn't have some title searches done on those rental properties. Like my deceased mother and stepfather's property in Huron, I'm willing to bet that a good share of them were involved in fraud that can be traced back to the auditor's office and the corrupt Erie County courts.

OSUBuckeye59

@Julie R,

What is your definition of a "good share"? Over 50%? Over 75%?

Just because your own personal experience with Erie County was negative, is it really fair to indict Erie Country with such a broad, sweeping statement in the absence of irrefutable facts?

I am fully aware of the "Where there's smoke, there's fire" saying. I also read stories on what seems a daily basis about corruption in cities through the country. And no, I have absolutely zero ties to anyone in Erie County government. It's just that I have found casting aspersions without backup can often times lead to a future meal of crow...without the helpful supporting garnish of at least mustard or chipotle hot sauce as an aid.

Julie R.

If people are stupid enough to take out two and three hundred thousand dollar loans for houses just to use them as rental properties during the summer months, more power to them. Same with realtors --- if they want to buy properties being sold at sheriff sales through foreclosure and use them as rental properties, more power to them, too. But what corrupt Erie County and their attorney friends should NOT be allowed to do ...... they should not be allowed to cause serious defects in the titles to property belonging to the elderly by authorizing fraudulent transfers on forged power of attorneys concealed in another county so the jokes that call themselves "courts of law" can then force them to be sold at scam sheriff sales through scam partition actions and fraud preliminary judicial reports to realtors to use as rental properties.

http://erie.iviewauditor.com/Res...

OSUBuckeye59

I can't address the personal issue you've raised as I simply have zero background knowledge.

Concerning your statement of "If people are stupid enough to take out two and three hundred thousand dollar loans for houses just to use them as rental properties during the summer months, more power to them."... It's quite clear you don't or have never invested in real estate, either commercial or residential. If you had ever invested in property, you'd realize how investment works. There are myriad reasons to purchase multiple investment properties, with the key word being "investment". A purchase of one piece of property might look like a waste of money to you, but to the savvy investor, it's one piece in an overall income investment strategy.

Both Nemesis and I have attempted to explain first that insurance for vacation rentals isn't that expensive, and secondly that purchasing a more expensive residence might be for the primary purpose of it being an investment property. But because of a personal "wrong" you keep citing, you're off on a tangent consistently refusing to believe the truth concerning insurance costs on rental properties, and then say those who invest in real estate for investment purposes are stupid.

At the end of the day, it matters not what anyone writes here in an attempt to give you insight as you seem totally unwilling to understand, accept, or even consider any input differing from your staunch, rigid beliefs.

Nemesis

Buckeye, apparently you're not familiar with Julie. Julie believes that certain lawyers and courthouse officials conspired to help someone, possibly a relative, cheat her out of her inheritance (her mother's share of a house.) For at least a couple years, she has constantly attempted to hijack every comment thread here to be about her story, and in more recent times, has concocted a completely unsupported theory that she is but one victim of a widespread criminal enterprise within the county courts.. It seems this behavior offers her some sort of catharsis as she has demonstrated either the inability or unwilingness to articulate what outcome she seeks, or to organize her actions to reasonably drive that outcome.

Julie R.

Duh ...... where did you ever get that from about an elderly stepfather cheating me out of my mother's share of a house? He didn't transfer his wife's half to property over to himself on a forged power of attorney hidden in the Lorain County Recorder (want the number --- you can view it online) and neither did he defraud the 4th beneficiary (who by the way was not me) on a new fraud TOD Deed --- his two disgruntled stepchildren did. And the fraud on the property was the very least of what those attorneys and other dirt-bags (all from Huron with the exception of that snake Lorain County attorney) did.

Nemesis

Answer the questions, Julie.

Nemesis

Answer the questions, Julie.

OSUBuckeye59

Nemesis, thank you for the synopsis. I now better understand the world in which Julie lives, where anyone who dares disagree with her is stupid, and where the county court system and all those who work within it are corrupt & evil. You know, as even Warren Buffet's children are aware, you simply cannot ever assume you'll get any inheritance from a relative. Better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed, vindictive and bitter the rest of your life.

Nemesis

Every town's got one. We took her seriously at first, even asking that the Register investigate, but when questioned at length, her story became disjoint, fragmented, and inconsistent. Then, when everyone started ignoring her, it suddenly became part of a much wider conspiracy. Those of us who push back are sometimes accused of being part of it.

Julie R.

Wow, you sure are delusional .... if not comical. I never heard anybody ask the Register to investigate and I've never asked them, either. What does the Register have to do with anything? And who may I ask questioned me at length? As for my story becoming disjointed, fragmented, and inconsistent ---- what a joke. I've never said anything yet that I can't prove. In fact, I even gave the matter of public record number on that fraudulent transfer of my mother's property ~ even showed how intentionally misleading the auditor and recorder's online records are ~ so why don't you call up the realtor that bought it and ask him why he was denied title insurance? If he doesn't tell you, would you like me to post it? After all, it's a matter of public record ---- or should be, anyway. His Sandusky attorneys for some odd reason (sarcasm) didn't file it ....... but I sure did!

OSUBuckeye59

Charge me as guilty for continuing to burrow down this particular rodent dig. I am now turned around and scurrying to get back to the surface . . .

I'd still very much like to know what occurred to have the City attempt to restrict in the first place. Did one or more Chaussee residents call in to voice concern or lodge a formal complaint?

I still maintain the City missed a golden opportunity to potentially realize a new tax revenue stream, unless, of course, either someone currently in City government or a wealthy/prominent citizen living in a house on the Chaussee objected to rentals popping up on the Chaussee and therefore attempted to pressure the City into taking legal action against Homeowners offering their residences as a summer rental.

Nemesis

Buckeye, last year, probably due to neighbor complaints possibly being about misbehaving vacation tenants, the city decided to mount an investigation by going to vacation rental by owner websites, and to suddenly get gung ho about enforcing this unconstitutional law.

As to why, the city government is dominated by busybody leftists who occasionally become dissatisfied with wiping the noses of the dependent class and have an action spasm from the realization that there are productive citizens out there deciding for themselves how, when, and why to wipe their own noses. They scratch this itch by throwing their weight around and seeking to bring such heretics under their thumb.

Nemesis

Last year, I posted a comment asking the Register to look into it, as did a few other commenters. You didn't notice because you were too busy repeating yourself. The Register is an independent party with the resources to investigate your story and get action. At first, several commenters, including me, questioned you at length in the comments sections for details on your story, and your responses (when they were even responsive) were disjointed, fragmented, and sometimes downright hysterical. You have posted inconsistencies in this very thread, which I pointed out, including contradicting yourself within a single comment.

Now, Julie dear, if you want there to be anyone left in town who doesn't doubt your sanity, answer the questions (if you even can):

-What has your ranting accomplished here?
-What do you hope it will accomplish?
-What would you like to see happen regarding your situation?
-How is your current behavior supposed to make that happen?

Julie R.

Really? I never saw any comments from you or anybody else asking the Register to look into anything. You must be delusional --- or making up a lie. Neither have I ever seen any comments questioning me for details. Why would anybody ask for details when I gave all the details without even being asked! (chuckle-chuckle)

Btw, did you see the article in the Plain Dealer about the audit done in the Cuyahoga County Clerk of Court's and the 23 million in unclaimed funds they found? Check out the comment I made about it on Binette's court renovation story.

Nemesis

It doesn't surprise me that you fail to recall comments posted when people still believed you - acknowledging that wouldn't fit with your paranoid imagination.

People asked you for details in many threads, but then, you're good at ignoring questions people ask you. Answer the questions, Julie:
-What has your ranting accomplished here?
-What do you hope it will accomplish?
-What would you like to see happen regarding your situation?
-How is your current behavior supposed to make that happen?

Julie R.

Instead of asking me what I HOPE to accomplish, ask me instead what I already did.

Nemesis

That was the first question, Julie, so why didn't you answer it?

Julie R.

Your county court system IS corrupt. It's why they're so paranoid and need bulletproof windows on the 2nd floor! (chuckle-chuckle)

Nemesis

"If people are stupid enough to take out two and three hundred thousand dollar loans for houses just to use them as rental properties during the summer months"

There's nothing stupid about making money. It appears that your understanding of business is as bad as your understanding of the legal system.

Answer the questions, Julie.

Julie R.

So if people are making millions, if not billions, off of these summer rental properties on Cedar Point Road and Curran Street, why isn't everybody clamoring to buy these properties? Why are realtors instead buying fraudulently transferred properties with serious defects in the titles at court-ordered scam sheriff sales through scam partition actions and fraud preliminary judicial reports? I mean, geez, providing that the properties on Cedar Point Road & Curran Street weren't involved in fraud, wouldn't it be a lot simpler to buy properties with clear titles to use as rental properties where you can go through a bank to get the loan instead of going through all that hassle of having to take out Home Equity Loans on your other properties just to buy property with serious defects in the title at a scam Erie County sheriff sale? Another plus --- if you buy property that wasn't involved in fraud to use as rental property, you won't even have to go through the hassle of setting it up in an LLC.

BTW, you wouldn't happen to know how many properties on Cedar Point Road and Curran Street are "owned" by an LLC, would you?

EZOB

Has the Sandusky taxpayers ever won a lawsuit? If so, how much did we collect?
You know, it starts small, shovel your walks, then fix the side walks, cut your grass, paint your house, fix your roof& fences they're eyesores. You can't rent your house, we are taking your house and demolishing it. Then a whole section are loosing their homes because of unpaid water bills. It hasn't ended, it just keeps getting worse. It's real nice to see your neighbor fix up their place but when they come knocking, maybe you won't have the money at the designated time and they won't care. They want you to pay more taxes all the time and tell you what you can and can not do. Please don't ever, ever question their authoriy. You pay for your own lawyer, oh yes, we pay for their lawyers too.

pavedparadise

Here's how Port Clinton handles this situation---Bed Tax for transient rentals.

171.01 DEFINITIONS.

For purposes of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings ascribed to them respectively.

(a) "Hotel" means every establishment kept, used, maintained, advertised or held out to the public to be a place where sleeping accommodations are offered for a consideration to guests, in which five or more rooms are used for the accommodation of guests, whether the rooms are in one or several structures.

(b) "Transient accommodation " means every establishment kept, used, maintained, advertised or held out to the public to be a place where sleeping accommodations are offered to guests in which four (4) or less rooms are used for the accommodations of such guests, whether such rooms are in one (1) or several structures.

(c) "Occupancy" means the use or possession, or the right to the use or possession of any room or rooms, or space or portion thereof, in any hotel or transient accommodation for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes. The use or possession or right to use or possess any room or any suite of connecting rooms as office space, banquet or private dining rooms, or exhibit, sample or display space shall not be considered occupancy within the meaning of this definition, unless the person exercising occupancy uses or possesses, or has the right to use or possess all or any portion of the room or suite of rooms for dwelling, lodging or sleeping purposes.

(d) "Operator" means the person who is the proprietor of the hotel, or transient accommodation whether in the capacity of owner, lessee, mortgagee in possession, licensee or any other capacity. Where the operator performs his functions through a managing agent of any type or character, other than an employee, the managing agent shall also be deemed an operator for the purposes of this chapter, and shall have the same duties and liabilities as his principal. Compliance with the provisions of this chapter by either the principal or the managing agent shall, however, be considered to be compliance by both.

(e) "Person" means any individual, firm, partnership, limited liability company, joint venture, association, social club, fraternal organization, joint stock company, corporation, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, trustee, syndicate or any other group or combination acting as a unit.

f) "Rent" means the consideration received for occupancy valued in money, whether received in money or otherwise, including all receipts, cash, credits and property or services of any kind or nature, and also any amount for which the occupant is liable for the occupancy without any deduction therefrom whatsoever.

(g) "Transient guest" means a person occupying a room or rooms for sleeping accommodations for less than thirty consecutive days.

(Ord. 40-05. Passed 12-27-05.)

Nemesis

Paved, what's your point? Port Clinton's law probably wouldn't survive similar scrutiny - a bar fly with whom you hook up, who stays overnight, would fall within the transient guest definition.
Why do you feel this fascist need to interfere with other peoples' use of their own property? It's none of your business who stays in someone else's house. Get your own house, use it as you wish, and be happy.

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