Worthington files motion to dismiss Lifestyle Communities UMCH lawsuit

The city of Worthington has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by property developer Lifestyle Communities, alleging the city is blocking the development of the former United Methodist Children’s Home property at 1033 N. High St. into a mixed-use residential and commercial development.

The motion, which calls for the dismissal of all counts, was filed May 27 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division in response to Lifestyle Communities’ lawsuit filed March 24.

The motion calls for the dismissal of the developer’s due process process, arguing that “plaintiffs cannot demonstrate a protected property interest in their discretionary rezoning request.”

“The City’s Comprehensive Plan is not codified law and thus does not limit the City’s discretionary authority in responding to Plaintiffs’ Planned Unit Development (‘PUD’) application,” the motion states.

The motion continues with arguments against the developer’s equal protection claims, stating that claim “fails because they did not, and cannot, identify a similarly situated PUD applicant.”

The motion also calls for the dismissal of the developer’s First Amendment claims because “the City’s uncodified Comprehensive Plan is not law, and therefore cannot regulate or otherwise stifle Plaintiffs ‘speech, and because Plaintiffs’ PUD application is not protected speech.”

United Methodist Children’s Home site: ThisWeek’s continuing coverage

It also calls for dismissal of the developer’s regulatory takings claim, which, the motion said, “fails because Plaintiffs did not and cannot allege that the City’s rejection of their PUD application deprived the subject property of all economically viable value.”

The suit is the result of a series of attempts by Lifestyle Communities to redevelop the property since 2015. Most recently, Worthington City Council in January abruptly amended the city’s comprehensive plan after the developer’s third bid to redevelop the site, a move the company’s attorneys alleged was illegal.

“The litigation is not representative of the business climate in Worthington,” city spokeswoman Anne Brown said in a statement. “The property at 1033 High St. is critically important to the Worthington community, and we will continue to evaluate the next steps. We are confident we will be able to find a solution that is best for our community. ”

An attorney with Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, the law firm representing Lifestyle Communities, indicated a response to the city’s motion likely would be filed soon.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

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