Canal Winchester will appeal an Aug. 3 court ruling that said village council should not have denied Rockford Homes' application to build an apartment complex near Groveport Road and Thrush Drive.

Canal Winchester will appeal an Aug. 3 court ruling that said village council should not have denied Rockford Homes' application to build an apartment complex near Groveport Road and Thrush Drive.

Rockford filed suit in Franklin County Municipal Court after council voted unanimously Jan. 5 to reject plans for the 112-unit complex. Judge Harland Hale ruled in favor of Rockford, saying village council's denial of the apartment development was an administrative action, not a legislative one.

According to the court's decision, Canal Winchester "does not provide a preponderance of evidence to support the application denial" and said the denial of Rockford's development plan application is "reversed and remanded."

"I think the court got it right," said Richard Brahm, the attorney representing Rockford Homes. "To be frank, this is just a political decision. Council wants to avoid ticking off their residents."

Canal Winchester Village Council approved an ordinance Aug. 17 to allow law director Gene Hollins to appeal the court's decision to the 10th District Court of Appeals.

Hollins said he must file the appeal by Sept. 3.

"Although we understand and appreciate the court's opinion, we still respectfully disagree with the analysis," he said.

He said the apartment application was denied as an administrative action by the village planning and zoning commission and upheld by council because Rockford's preliminary development plan failed to meet village ordinance requirements.

A development application requires a preliminary plan, he said.

"Nobody's ever submitted anything close to a true preliminary plan," Hollins said.

Brahm said, however, that council took legislative action in denying the request.

The village development staff recommended approving Rockford's application in November.

According to court documents, Rockford contends that the village planning and zoning commission gave no reason for denying the request for the 112-unit apartment development Nov. 12.

The company also said council's denial of the request "was illegal, arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and unsupported by a preponderance of evidence."

Residents turned out in force at several meetings at which plans for the apartments were discussed. The majority objected to the plans, citing concerns over falling property values and general opposition to building any apartments in Canal Winchester.

"It was not a political decision," Councilwoman Leah Turner said. "We're working for the village."

"Council's long-term policy has been to maintain a balance of development," Councilman Bruce Jarvis said. "The Canal Winchester area has seen an explosion of rental properties."

He added the decision by council was not politically motivated and not based entirely on public pressure. It had more to do with maintaining a "balance of development" in the area.