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Taxpayers demand Akron law director stop illegal White Pond development project

Friday, December 23, 2022

Today, taxpayers represented by Chandra Law demanded that Akron's law director stop the controversial and environmentally dubious White Pond development project.

Taxpayers demand Akron law director stop illegal White Pond development project
White Pond. Photo courtesy of Miranda Florent

Akron, OH – Today, taxpayers led by Akron resident David Guran demanded through attorney Subodh Chandra that Akron's law director, Eve V. Belfance, stop the controversial and environmentally dubious White Pond development project from proceeding.

The demand is based on the violation of Akron Codified Ordinance § 34.27, which expressly requires a two-thirds-majority vote before city-owned real estate can be sold to a "named grantee"—as opposed to put up for public bidding.

On December 12, 2022, Akron City Council voted 7-to-6 (53.8%) to move the project forward by selling real estate to a specific developer, White Pond Reserve, LLC, far short of the 66 2/3% required. Yet, disregarding the loss, the City Council moved the project forward to its Monday, January 9, 2023 agenda.

The taxpayers demanded that the Director of Law Belfance stop this illegality internally or that she file suit against the offending officials. If she fails to do so, the taxpayers will file suit in the City's name.

Ohio Revised Code § 733.59 provides taxpayers with this authority to stop illegality by a municipality, initially through a demand, and failing that through a lawsuit in the municipality's name.

"Dead in the White Pond water."

Subodh Chandra, the taxpayers' lead counsel and a former Cleveland law director, wrote Director Belfance in the taxpayer-demand letter: "[B]ecause sale of the property to White Pond Reserve, LLC, or its designee, failed to pass by a two-thirds vote, the sale is dead in the White Pond water."

"As a matter of law. And simple math," he added.

"Contagion of contempt for the rule of law."

Chandra also noted the contempt for the rule of law represented by Akron officials' flouting of the rules:

Unfortunately, we have seen in recent months what happens nationally when certain officials refused to respect the rule of law and the outcome of votes. That contagion of contempt for the rule of law must not spread to Akron. Under A.C.O. § 34.27, there was no winning vote. Project proponents must respect the outcome and the rule of law.

The letter requests a response by January 6, 2023, which Chandra describes in the letter as

an anniversary date ironically symbolizing decisions by public officials about whether they will abide by the rule of law and democracy. For the taxpayers, there is genuine uncertainty here about their government officials because of the disrespect shown to those peaceful protesting the White Pond Development Project when the Council used police on December 12, 2022 to eject protestors, in violation of their First Amendment rights.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

The Chandra Law Firm LLC has experience in both pursuing and defending taxpayer litigation. Other examples are linked on this page.

If a city or county public servant has violated the public’s trust or misused public funds, call us at 216-578-1700 or fill out our online contact form to learn how we may be able to help.

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Related Practice Areas
Government Ethics, Misconduct, Fraud, & AbuseTaxpayer Lawsuits in Ohio

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