The Monroe Township Trustees used a court order to inspect A-1 Reliable Towing near Johnstown, alleging that its owner, John Sadinsky, is not complying with the township's junk-cars regulations.
In 2009, the township alleged that the towing service had violated two aspects of the property's conditional-use permit, including that Sadinsky was not to expand his part-time business and that the number of vehicles stored in his impound lot is limited.
Trustee Joe Robertson said Sadinsky's conditional-use permit allows him to operate a part-time towing recovery business, with a total of six cars permitted in a designated impound area.
"The township zoning inspector conducted a site visit and inventory after obtaining a search warrant because Mr. Sadinsky refused the zoning inspector access to his property," Robertson said. "We discovered 116 cars on the subject property, and we will be working with the Licking County prosecutor's office to determine the next steps in the process to bring Mr. Sadinsky into compliance with the terms of his conditional-use permit."
Trustee Troy Hendren said obtaining the search warrant was nothing personal against Sadinsky.
"He's been cooperative," Hendren said.
He said the trustees continue to receive complaints about township properties that violate zoning codes, however, and the trustees' job is to follow up on those complaints.
"People call, and we have to react," he said. "Junk cars and abandoned houses continue to be a problem, and we're forced to address the problem."
Hendren said the township has taken many photos of Sadinsky's property, including aerial views.
"The township has been unsuccessful with reaching an agreement with Mr. Sadinsky," he said. "We thought there were about 50 or 60 cars (on the property)."
He said the trustees weren't expecting to find 116.
"The township's worked for years to come to some kind of an agreement with Mr. Sadinsky," Hendren said.
He said the trustees continue to work with the Licking County prosecutor to resolve the issue.
"I hope we can reach some kind of resolution in the near future," he said.
Robertson said the township's board of zoning appeals ruled that Sadinsky was in violation of his conditional-use permit, but Sadinsky appealed. Robertson said that based on a matter stemming from another issue in another Ohio township, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a board of zoning appeals is not permitted to revoke a conditional-use permit, so Sadinsky's case was referred to the Licking County prosecutor.
"It's going to be a civil matter; we're going to pursue it in court," Robertson said.
Sadinsky said he currently has no statement other than that he owns some of the 116 vehicles and that they are not junk. He said he would issue a statement in the coming days.
Previously, Sadinsky said all of the vehicles at his towing business are within a fenced-in area and that he doubts the junk-vehicles ordinance applies to a towing service because its mission is to store vehicles.
"We have no vehicles outside our fenced-in area whatsoever," he said.