By Dustin Ensinger
A controversial project to add a new connector roadway between U.S. 23 and Stratford Road has resulted in a lawsuit against the City of Delaware and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Turkey Hill is alleging that the two public entities “fraudulently” obtained right-of-way from the company for for the road project under the agreement that it would be constructed a specific way, but later changed the scope of the project after gaining the land.
“ODOT and Delaware fraudulently obtained the right-of-way from Turkey Hill to construct Alternative F-1 based upon representations and agreements that Alternative D would be constructed,” reads the lawsuit filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
Both the City of Delaware and ODOT declined to comment.
Alternative F-1 will link U.S. 23 and Stratford Road 1,000 feet north of the current intersection at 315. Both intersections will operate on a coordinated traffic signal system.
Officials say the realignment will improve safety and efficiency at the intersection.
Meanwhile, Turkey Hill officials have said Alternative F-1 could negatively impact their business.
For more than a year now Turkey Hill has alleged that the city and ODOT have not been forthcoming about the project, claiming that the decision to scrap Alternative D in favor of Alternative F-1 was made with no public input before informing any stakeholders of the decision.
“By their concealment, Delaware and ODOT each, together and separately, intended to mislead Turkey Hill regarding Alternative D into granting right-of-way,” according to the lawsuit.
ODOT and city officials have repeatedly denied those allegations.
City officials have also said several changes were made to the project based on stakeholder complaints, including turning the current Stratford Road intersection with U.S. 23 into an unsignalized, left-in/right-in/right-out intersection.
The new connector road was moved North to address concerns of the Delaware County Historical Society and the “T” intersection at the new connector will alleviate headlight glare on nearby homes, city officials previously said.
However, the changes were not enough to appease everyone in the area. Several members of the Stratford Woods Homeowners’ Association have complained that the realignment will lead to increased traffic in the area, pollution and lower property values.
The lawsuit asks the court to stop Alternative F-1 from proceeding and prohibiting any alternative other than D to be constructed. The lawsuit also asks the court to void the right-of-way acquisition if the court does not require the city and ODOT to pursue Alternative F-1
The lawsuit also seeks an injunction to prevent an actions related to the development of Alternative F-1 while the case is litigated.
The Delaware County commissioners and the Delaware County Engineer’s Office are also named in the lawsuit.
Dustin Ensinger can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @EnsingerDG.