North Canton Prevails in Former Spitzer Dealership Property Appraisal Case

North Canton, Ohio – The former Spitzer car dealership property in North Canton, acquired by the city under eminent domain to widen Charlotte Street NE and North Main Street, has been accurately appraised, according to a recent ruling by a jury in Stark County Common Pleas Court. The jury also agreed with the city’s argument that the buildings on the property, which had a history dating back to 1922 and 1962, were worthless and that the city should not have to pay for demolishing them. However, the jury determined that the city should have paid the property owner monthly payments for a year, rather than the six months initially sought by the city. As a result, North Canton will have to pay the property owner, the Julius Brown LLC family trust, an additional $40,744.

The jury’s decision falls far short of the $1.6 million demanded by the former land owners. The trial, which lasted four days and concluded with less than two hours of deliberation, was overseen by Stark County Common Pleas Judge Chryssa Hartnett. In eminent domain cases like this, a jury can consist of fewer than the typical 12 jurors required for a criminal trial, and a verdict can be reached with agreements from three-quarters of the jurors.

North Canton had already agreed to pay approximately $214,000, while Julius Brown LLC sought $1.6 million for the property. The city’s appraiser, Dan Miller, argued that the property was worth $700,000 per acre due to its potential for commercial development, while the buildings themselves had no value. The attorney for Julius Brown LLC, Joseph Spoonster, contended that the city had wanted the old Spitzer buildings removed for economic development purposes and used the construction of a new school as a pretext to acquire the property through eminent domain.

Despite the jury’s ruling, North Canton’s attorney, Owen Rarric, expressed satisfaction with the verdict, stating, “We strongly believed what we offered was fair compensation, and the jury determined that as well.” The additional payment ordered by the jury will be in addition to the $216,000 already deposited by the city with the Stark County Common Pleas Court.

The former Spitzer car dealership property, located at the northwestern corner of North Main Street and Charlotte Street, has a significant historical significance. While the jury concluded that the buildings were in insufficient condition and had no value, Spoonster argued that videos and pictures of the buildings in 2021 showed that they were still usable and that the city should compensate his client for their demolition. The outcome of the trial has brought resolution to the value of the property, providing clarity for both the city and the property owner.

As the case comes to a close, it underscores the complexities surrounding eminent domain cases and the importance of fair compensation for both property owners and the city. This ruling sets a precedent for future cases regarding the acquisition of private property for public projects. North Canton will now move forward with its plans to widen the streets, with the former Spitzer property cleared for development and the legal questions surrounding its value put to rest.