MEDINA TWP. — Instead of hiring a private law firm, township trustees are looking to the Medina City Prosecutor’s Office in its zoning code dispute with Kia dealership owner Bill Doraty.
Township officials say the inflatable displays Doraty places on the business’s roof at 2925 Medina Road violate township code. Doraty has been using the displays, which are mostly seasonal in nature, since 2008. A giant bee sat on the roof this week.
Trustee Ray Jarrett has said Doraty’s displays exceed allowable signage under township zoning code. The inflatables are considered signage because they draw attention to the business, he said.
“Roof signs shall not project above the roof of a building with a flat roof,” according to the code, and inflatables are considered signs per the code.
The township has sent letters to Doraty regarding the violations and has moved to take legal action against the dealership owner.
“It’s kind of a unique situation where there have been several conflicts with different attorneys,” Jarrett said. Under the Ohio Revised Code, the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office acts as legal adviser to the townships, and normally the township would request the office to pursue legal action.
However, county Prosecutor Dean Holman recommended the township secure outside counsel after a member of the township Zoning Commission alleged Holman and township Trustee Michael Todd held a “secret meeting” in Columbus about the Doraty issue. Both men deny any meeting took place.
Even though the accusation was false, Holman has said he “wanted to stay above the fray” by declining to be involved.
After Holman declined to take on the case, the township contacted Cleveland law firm Walter and Haverfield; but due to the township’s “economic situation,” trustees were advised to see if the city prosecutor’s office could handle it.
City Law Director Greg Huber said he too had a conflict in the case and he appointed Parma Prosecutor Tom Weinreich to handle it. Huber said his department regularly serves as prosecutor for the townships.
“As far as I know, nothing has been sent to Mr. Doraty as far as the new prosecutor. They’re reviewing the case right now,” Jarrett said.
Jarrett said he has tried to work with Doraty “various times” in the past on the issue.
“Normally everybody has observed our zoning code and we’ve never had a problem with approaching individuals or businesses about the zoning codes to correct (something),” Jarrett said. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve got to go in this direction. We have to be fair and consistent across the board in regards to our zoning.”
Doraty did not return phone messages seeking comment this week. He has said he is not going to give up protesting the code.
“It all started because I wanted to put an inflatable on my roof,” Doraty has said.
He said if residents can use inflatable seasonal displays in their yards, he should be able to as well.
“They have the inflatables classified under their signs,” Doraty said of the zoning code. “It’s clearly not a sign. It’s a display.”
Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.