Attorneys for Fairlawn and Copley Township continue to present testimony in Summit County Common Pleas Court this week on Copley's attempt to block Fairlawn's plans to erect permanent barricades to through traffic on Rothrock Road.
Copley Police Chief Michael Mier testified that the barricades will present a number of problems including more Montrose traffic congestion and safety problems if the court allows them to be erected.
Mier tells AkronNewsNow " That Rothrock Road area is the way that our officers normally respond to calls into the Montrose business district in order to avoid some of that congestion, and the dangerous driving that they might have to experience if they're travelling with lights and sirens on."
Mier says an alternative proposal by Fairlawn to allow Copley Police and Fire access through Rosemont Boulevard to Rothrock Road is a not a realistic solution to the emergency access the safety forces need.
The Copley Chief says permanent barricades would also affect traffic flow in Montrose. " The Montrose area already experiences congestion several times a day and throughout the week at various times, and I'm concerned that if Fairlawn erects a gate or barricade of some sort across Rothrock Road it could cause increased traffic and increased congestion in the Cleveland-Massillon Road corridor. It's going to create a whole lot of unintended consequences for all folks, not just in Copley, but in Bath, Copley and Fairlawn since the Montrose business district lies in all three communities,"says Mier.
Copley Township Police Chief Michael Mier by Larry States
Fairlawn decided to erect temporary barricades in what Copley officials call an effort to try and stop Wal -Mart from building a new store and Sam's Club on Rothrock Road to replace the current Wal-Mart and Sams Club in Fairlawn.
Fairlawn officials deny that's the reason they want the barricades
This week's court hearing is expected to continue into next week.
The proposed plan to move Walmart and Sam's Club from Fairlawn into Copley Township has ruffled feathers.
News Channel 5 reports Rothrock Road at Sawgrass Drive in Fairlawn will be blocked by a concrete barrier starting April 10. Copley Township says that this poses a safety risk to its residents.
Fairlawn Deputy Director Ernie Staten says motorists will be alerted to the closure starting Thursday, March 22.
"This will be a total road closure and there will be no opportunity to pass by," he said.
A meeting took place Wednesday morning at Fairlawn City Hall to discuss the issue.
Copley Fire Chief Michael Benson is strongly opposed to the proposal.
"Please don't do it," he said. "Don't do it."
Benson says response times will be increased with the barrier, causing probelms for Copley residents who need help.
The wall will eventually be replaced by gates to be used only by police, fire and school buses. The plan is to move the stores to an undeveloped section of land on Rothrock Road.
Fairlawn Mayor Bill Roth says that Walmart's income taxes are less than 5 percent of the city's tax revenue and the barriers are about safety, not money.
Some Fairlawn residents support the barriers, such as Tom Lorini.
"People would be cutting through to go over to Walmart, which would bring up traffic. It would just be almost a nuisance," he said.
A trial date between Fairlawn and Copley Township regarding the closure is scheduled for April 30 at Summit County Common Pleas Court.
Some residents have also filed lawsuits in an attempt to re-open the road.
On the Web www.newsnet5.com
The barriers in place to close Rothrock Road will likely become permanent as talks continue to build a Walmart Supercenter in Copley Township.
News Channel 5 reports Fairlawn City Council had a second reading of the ordinance involving the barriers Monday night. City officials say the ordinance will more than likely pass at the next council meeting.
On the Web: www.newsnet5.com
Summit County Judge Alison McCarty has turned down a bid from Copley to have a ruling asking for a preliminary injunction that would halt plans by Fairlawn regarding road closures and controls associated with Wal-Mart's move from their current location to one in the Township.
McCarty early ruled against Copley Township, freeing Fairlawn to construct a gate at Rothrock Rd. and Sawgrass Drive. Fairlawn has since changed it's plans regarding the specific construction of the access controls with a barricade, but McCarty ruled the changes weren't overwhelming or substantive to bring back Copley's request for an injunction halting construction.
Ruling - Copley v Fairlawn, request for reconsideration
This cause is before the Court upon Plaintiff, Copley Township’s ("Copley"), Motion to Reconsider this Court’s October 3, 2011 Order denying Copley’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction. As a basis for this motion, Copley alleges a change in the underlying facts and circumstances of the case. Defendant, City of Fairlawn ("Fairlawn"), acknowledges that some of the circumstances have changed, but contends that a motion to reconsider is improper, and, ultimately, should be denied because Copley still has not established the proper grounds for a preliminary injunction. The Court will consider the motion, including the briefs and supplements thereto, briefs in opposition and briefs in support.
Once this Court denied the preliminary injunction, Fairlawn was free to move forward with the installation of the gate system and the closure of the road. Time and weather constraints made it unfeasible to install the gate system this year. Nevertheless, Fairlawn intends to move forward with the road closure through alternate means - placing a Type-III barricade to the immediate west of the intersection of Rothrock Road and Sawgrass Drive. The plan allows for a minimum of twelve feet on either side of this barrier for the safe passage of emergency vehicles and permitted traffic. Fairlawn also intends to post all mandatory, as well as certain optional signage, both inside and outside of Fairlawn, advising motorists of the road closure. This would include three Portable Changeable Message Signs, and various stationary signs with statements such as: "Road Closed – Local Access Only", "Road Closed – To Thu Traffic", "Road Closed At Sawgrass Drive", "Road Closed 500 FT.", "Road Closed 250 FT.", "Rosemont Ridge Residents Only".
Evaluating Copley’s arguments regarding the changed facts and circumstances in light of the four factors relevant to a preliminary injunction motion, this Court finds that the decision to deny the injunction should remain undisturbed. It is true that the safety and precautionary measures discussed in this Court’s October 3rd Order are no longer applicable to the planned closure. However, it is also true that the barricade and signage Fairlawn now plans to use in closing the roadway does not present the same problems and concerns presented by a permanent gate obstructing the entire roadway. Therefore, the Court finds that injunctive relief remains inappropriate.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Reconsideration is denied.
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