“I came to the statehouse to fight for the Valley and fight for my constituents and that’s what this legislation is about: Taking a stand and fighting for what is right,” said state Rep. Al Cutrona of Canfield, R-59th.
COLUMBUS — Ohio’s biennial budget bill contains a provision that could stop Mill Creek MetroParks from seizing several acres of residential property via eminent domain to finish a 6-mile span of biking trail.
State Rep. Al Cutrona of Canfield, R-59th, earlier this year revived legislation to stop the property seizures, for which Mill Creek MetroParks has filed several lawsuits since late 2018.
Language from that bill was included in the state’s 2022-23 budget, which state lawmakers passed Monday evening, leaving it now up for review by Gov. Mike DeWine.
The provision “prohibits a park district in Mahoning County from using eminent domain to appropriate property for recreational trails” reads a late Monday news release from Cutrona’s office. Cutrona called it an “overreach” of governmental power.
“This is a common sense proposal. It’s been debated and it’s time to get it done,” he’s quoted in the release. “This will better protect property rights and it’s the right thing to do.
“I came to the statehouse to fight for the Valley and fight for my constituents and that’s what this legislation is about: Taking a stand and fighting for what is right,” Cutrona said.
The MetroParks has been in litigation with mostly private property owners to appropriate about 30 acres along the proposed trail, in order to finish a 6.4-mile span of bikeway through Mahoning County that would connect to a 100-mile bike trail running from Ashtabula to East Liverpool. Several of the cases have been settled but other property owners continue to fight eminent domain in court.
Aaron Young, executive director of Mill Creek MetroParks, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.