Plans to construct a retail complex anchored by a Menards store in Granger Township have cleared another legal hurdle.
The Ohio Ninth Judicial District Court of Appeals upheld the decision made by the Medina County Court of Common Pleas that Citizens Action Group, which had filed civil cases in an attempt to stop the project, had no legal standing to file a case in the courts.
"The trial court concluded that Citizens Action Group, as a nonprofit organization, did not have the standing to initiate an appeal…on behalf of its members in a representative capacity," Judge Lynne Callahan wrote in the ruling issued Monday. "The trial court did not err by dismissing Citizens Action Group's complaint for lack of standing."
Jeff Abbott, a spokesperson for Menard Inc., declined to comment on the case and added no decisions have been made on when construction might begin.
Andrew J. Karas, an attorney with Fair Shakes Environmental Legal Services who served as the legal representative for Citizens Action Group, said the organization was weighing whether or not to take an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
"We are disappointed in the court of appeal's decision," he said. "The ability of nonprofit community organizations to pursue court battles on their members’ behalf is an important access-to-justice issue that has broad implications beyond our local challenge to this unpopular construction project. No court has ever opined on the wisdom of the township’s decision to approve construction of the Menards and the associated sprawling commercial development; instead, Menards and the township have tried to overcome our grass-roots challenges by raising hypertechnical legal arguments about which entity should be included in the court case’s caption."
S. Forrest Thompson, the Medina County prosecutor, said he hopes the ruling will bring closure to the issue.
"The decision affirmed the decision of the trial court, in that this group — as well-intended as I'm sure they were — did not have the legal standing to file the action," Thompson said.
Citizens Action Group, which according to the court ruling has around 100 members, formed in 2019 after Menard Inc. announced it would build a shopping center at a 125-acre site at state Route 18 and Medina Line Road, near Montrose.
Granger Township Trustees had approved the first phase of the plan in spring 2021. About a month later, the citizens group filed a civil case, asserting that the planned complex fails to meet the township's zoning resolution. In a statement on its website, the group says it opposes the project because of "the filling of wetland, destruction of rural farmland, increased flooding to neighborhood homes, decreased property values," and other reasons.
Plans introduced for the complex, which would be known as The Market at Medina Line, call for a retail complex about a mile from the Montrose commercial district in Summit County. Public officials have estimated the built-out cost and value of the development at roughly $40 million.
History of Menard project:New Menards off state Route 18 gets go-ahead as part of Granger Township retail site
Reporter April Helms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: State appeals court rejects bid to block Menards store in Granger Twp.