Year in Review: Ohio Farm Bureau weighs in on Supreme Court cases

Buckeye Farm News

Ohio Farm Bureau was pleased with an Ohio Supreme Court decision, which had implications for property rights and farmland preservation, as it protected the ability of local governments to manage growth.

The court found that townships could base zoning resolutions on countywide land use plans rather than bear the costs of developing their own individual plans. It could cost a township tens of thousands of dollars to develop a comprehensive plan.

“This decision could have upset the apple cart and thrown local zoning rules into confusion. Everything would be up for challenge,” said Larry Gearhardt, OFBF’s senior director of local policy.

OFBF and Wayne County Farm Bureau filed briefs with the Supreme Court stating that zoning is an important farmland preservation tool and that cash-strapped rural townships do not have the resources to develop their own comprehensive plans. Farm Bureau was also concerned about the rights of township residents to have a say in the types of businesses that may locate in their area.

In another case, Ohio Farm Bureau filed a brief with the court supporting the rights of landowners along Lake Erie following a dispute about where their property ended and the state’s began. OFBF expressed concerns to the court that arguments being made in this case could set precedents that threaten farmers’ riparian rights and lead to public access of previously private shores and banks. A specific concern is that if environmental groups get their way, the court’s decision could establish that the state of Ohio holds title to the land underneath all the now privately-owned navigable rivers, streams and in-land lakes in the state. Equally troubling is that if this state ownership is determined, it would not be considered a government “taking”, and no compensation would be owed to the landowner because the state would be deemed to have held title to those river, stream and in-land lake beds since 1803.

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