International Municipal Lawyers Association - Local Government Blog

Development Opposition Results in Civil Stalking Protection Order | July 13, 2009

 Posted By: Dwight Merriam, Partner, Robinson & Cole, LLP

I get back from a nice nine days cruising in my sailboat to face over 1,000 emails and there in the midst of them is a slip opinion in a land-use civil stalking complaint.  It kind of makes me want get back onboard with Captain Morgan and sail away…

Thanks (I guess) to my friend, Stuart Meck, FAICP/PP, Associate Research Professor and Director, Planning Practice Program at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, for this little gem. (Stuart — your title is longer than my resume, for heaven’s sake).  Stuart was from Ohio in another life and with Kenneth J. Pearlman publishes the annual treatise, Ohio Planning and Zoning Law (Thomson West).  Stuart’s a planner, not a lawyer, but he knows land use law.

The back story is this.  Three 20-something idealists decide to do an ambitious mixed use project in Oberlin, Ohio.  It even gets the attention of The New York Times in 2006.   Here are the young entrepreneurs courtesy of The New York Times.

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Ben Ezinga, left, Naomi Sabel and Joshua Rosen, collectively known in Oberlin, Ohio, as “the kids,” put together the financial backing and city support for a $15 million development on a site vacant for years. David Maxwell for The New York Times

Their project was budgeted at $15 but became $17 million and includes 28,000 square feet of retail space, 52,000 square feet of residential space and about 15,000 square feet of parking. They closed on the financing and have the project under construction.

The string of messages spanning almost three years on this blog is a good read.  The threesome calls themselves Sustainable Community Associates and their website has detailed information on the project. You can see the construction underway on videos they have posted at the website.  Many recent photographs (July 8, 2009) are available on flickr.

Nice story; happy ending forthcoming, I assume, if the rotten real estate economy doesn’t take them down.

However, early on, one Mark Chesler became a vitriolic opponent.  Click on this and read some of his testimony and think back to those hearings when you sat through similar diatribes.   And if you want more, click here.

It got so bad that Rosen sought and was granted a civil stalking protection order against Chesler, who allegedly yelled things at Rosen on the street 7-10 times in two months before the order was issued.  The court issuing the order (actually adopting a magistrate’s decision) and the court on appeal found a “pattern of conduct” which is two or more actions or incidents closely related in time. One of them was in a restaurant where Chesler yelled at Rosen: “I got you now.”

A few days later Chesler confronted Rosen downtown.  There were other encounters reported in the decision by the Court of Appeals Ninth Judicial District on June 30, 2009, upholding the order.  Rosen feared bodily harm.

This land-use business can be tough.


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This blog is made possible by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), but may include guest bloggers (who are attorneys with experience in local government matters) who might or might not work for IMLA. Their views (and those expressed on this site) do not necessarily express the views of IMLA.

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