Property-tax lawsuit is over between Beachwood, Warrensville Heights school districts

February 7, 2019

Property-tax lawsuit is over between Beachwood, Warrensville Heights school districts

BEACHWOOD, Ohio -- A court battle over a long-running property-tax dispute between two area school districts is decided.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo on Wednesday granted Warrensville Heights City School District’s motion for summary judgement of a lawsuit filed by Beachwood City School District.

Beachwood schools’ lawsuit, filed in August, claimed the school district is owed more than $5 million under a tax-sharing agreement with Warrensville Heights schools from the late 1990s. At the center of the property-tax disagreement was 405 acres of Chagrin Highlands, a suburban corporate park that is home to University Hospitals’ Minoff Health Center, Life Time Fitness and Eaton Corp.’s corporate offices.

“We believe this decision will empower us to continue our progress,” Warrensville Heights City Schools Superintendent Donald Jolly II said in a news release. “We are dedicated and focused on our pursuit of becoming one of the best school districts in the state of Ohio.”

Attorneys representing Beachwood schools have not yet been reached for comment.

In December, attorneys for Warrensville Heights filed a motion for summary judgement, arguing in a court filing that “there are no genuine issues of material fact and the defendant is entitled to judgement as a matter of law.” Beachwood schools opposed the motion, but Judge Russo, in a short entry filed Wednesday, granted it.

The school district’s claim of more than $5 million in unpaid tax revenues was based on property-value growth at Chagrin Highlands between 2012 and 2017, The Plain Dealer previously reported.

The issue dates back to 1990, when Beachwood annexed 405 acres from the city of Cleveland as part of a multi-community deal to create the nearly 700-acre development, The Plain Dealer reported in October. The land that Beachwood acquired as part of the deal sat in the Warrensville Heights school district; this set off a battle over school-district boundaries. The resolution to this dispute was an agreement that Warrensville Heights schools would keep the property, but give Beachwood schools a share of property-tax revenues from commercial projects in the park, The Plain Dealer reported. Beachwood schools have claimed that Warrensville Heights did not keep up its end of the bargain, while Warrensville Heights has argued in public filings that an agreement was never finalized.

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