June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Doraty dispute: Car dealer charged with misdemeanor, could face fine

MEDINA — Bill Doraty of Bill Doraty Kia faces a misdemeanor charge and possible fine in Med­ina Municipal Court over the use of inflatable displays at his Med­ina Township dealership.

A special prosecutor filed a sign charge against Doraty on Sept. 29 for allegedly violating the township’s zoning code by using inflatable displays on the roof of his dealership at 2925 Medina Road, which he has been doing since 2008.

A big inflatable bee was towering over Bill Doraty’s car dealership in Medina Township late last month. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

A big inflatable bee was towering over Bill Doraty’s car dealership in Medina Township late last month. (GAZETTE FILE PHOTO)

Attorney Laura Mills entered a not guilty plea on Doraty’s behalf Wednesday.

“The charge is that he has will­ingly violated the zoning regula­tions and they’re trying to fine him … for violating it. But he hasn’t violated it,” Mills said.

“There’s no way the zoning res­olutions are constitutional.”

Special Prosecutor Thomas Weinreich of Parma is represent­ing the township in the case. He did not return calls for comment Thursday.

Township trustees declined to comment on the matter Thurs­day.

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.

In another turn of events, Doraty filed a lawsuit against Medina Township trustees and other township officials on Oct. 8 over what he claims is the “ambiguity” of the township’s zoning code regarding inflat­able displays and violations of his constitutional rights.

Scherba Industries of Brunswick, the manufacturer of the inflatables doing busi­ness as Inflatable Images, joined Doraty as a plaintiff in the case.

In his suit, Doraty is seeking damages in excess of $25,000 plus attorney fees and costs.

Doraty declined to comment on his Municipal Court case Thursday.

Under Ohio Revised Code, the Medina County Prosecu­tor’s Office acts as legal adviser to 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 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.

The township then con­tacted Cleveland law firm Wal­ter and Haverfield; but due to the township’s “economic situ­ation,” trustees were advised to contact the city’s law depart­ment.

Medina Law Director Greg Huber said he too had a con­flict in the case and he appointed Weinreich to handle it.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina­gazette.com.