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Wells Sherman House Court Case Not Over

Group files objection to magistrate's ruling

Wells Sherman House Court Case Not Over

The struggle persists over the relocation of a historic Kent house to a cherished piece of greenspace.

Kent attorney John Plough, representing members of the group Save the Standing Rock Garden, who oppose the relocation of the Kent Wells Sherman House to 247 N. Water St., has filed an objection to a magistrate's decision in the court case about the issue.

In December Portage County Magistrate Kent Graham denied three injunction requests made by Save the Standing Rock Garden in an effort to stop the relocation of the house to the lot, which has been used — but not owned — for decades by members of neighboring Kent arts group Standing Rock Cultural Arts.

Plough had asked the court for injunctions in November against the Kent Wells Sherman House Inc., board — the group trying to relocate the house — and the Kent Architectural Review Board and Kent Planning Commission — both of which cast votes approving the relocation — to try and stop the house from being set on the greenspace.

In his objection, Plough argues that the magistrate erred on five points, including:

  • Misconstruing a change in the site plan for the relocation project as new evidence that permitted a second review by the planning commission;
  • Accepting a city employee's interpretation of state law rather than making his own determination;
  • Permitting two members of the architecture board to vote on the issue despite conflicts of interest; 
  • Finding the city complied with Ohio Sunshine Laws regarding public notice of the architecture board meeting about the house relocation;
  • And failing to allow rebuttal testimony by Save the Standing Rock Garden during the preliminary hearing, which spanned several days.

As part of the objection, filed Dec. 20, Plough asked the court for an oral hearing to present additional evidence in the case.

No such hearing has yet been scheduled, according to court records.

North Canton attorney J. Michael Gatien, on behalf of Kent Wells Sherman House Inc., filed a response Jan. 7 asking the court to dismiss the case on the grounds Plough's objection includes no new arguments that weren't already heard during the preliminary hearings.

"All of the foregoing (arguments) are identical to the administrative appeal and have been decided," Gatien wrote.

For now, the house remains in its temporary spot at the dead end of East College Avenue, land owned by Kent State University, where it was moved in August. It was moved to stave off demolition so construction could start on the Esplanade expansion.

The house sat there under if it were not moved from that temporary location.

But university officials have said they will not make a decision on razing the house until the court case has concluded and, instead, prefer to aid in its relocation to a permanent site.

City building officials have yet to issue permits allowing construction of a foundation or other elements necessary to move the house to the lot at 247 N. Water St., which is owned by Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc.

Editor's note — Clarification: Standing Rock Cultural Arts is not a direct party to this lawsuit. It's board of directors voted not to become involved in the court action.

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