Harbor Island bridge case reversed

Larry Limpf

The Ottawa County Common Pleas Court erred in how it authorized the appointment of a receiver to oversee the replacement of the Harbor Island Bridge, the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals has ruled.
The ruling stems from a dispute between the Harbor Island Association and Stecks Buckeye Storage Units over the bridge, which is the only span to Harbor Island.
In common pleas court, the association argued that the Declaration of Restrictions for Harbor Island gave the association the right to replace the bridge and asked the court for a declaration to that effect.
Stecks opposed the motion, arguing the bridge is located on its property, which is exempted from the Declaration of Restrictions. Stecks claimed that it – not the association – had the right to control any maintenance or repair of the bridge and it was willing to do so.
In July 2019, the court determined each landowner had an implied easement for using the bridge and each defendant would be responsible for a fair share of the cost of maintenance and repair.
Following a hearing in September 2019, the court ruled a replacement bridge is needed and concluded 61 percent of the replacement costs should be apportioned to the association, 6.32 percent to the Waterford Way subdivision properties, 8.42 percent to the Nor’Easter Cove condominium properties, and 24.21 percent to the Nor’Easter Club.
Stecks appeal contends the common pleas court abused its discretion by appointing a receiver before a final judgment was issued and by denying Stecks an opportunity to be heard on the association’s request for the appointment.
“The record of the case before us discloses that appellant (Stecks) never received actual notice of the final hearing/trial on the merits of appellee’s petition. Because such notice is required under Ottawa County’s local rules, appellant was denied his constitutional right to due process,” the appeals court ruled. “Accordingly, we find that the trial court abused its discretion in granting the emergency motion for an appointment of a receiver without a hearing.”
The appeals court reversed the common pleas court decision and remanded the case back to the lower court.


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