The Third District Court of Appeals upheld a decision by Union County Common Pleas Judge Don Fraser last week, saying the city of Dublin can't return three parcels of property it had purchased in Union County several years ago.

The Third District Court of Appeals upheld a decision by Union County Common Pleas Judge Don Fraser last week, saying the city of Dublin can't return three parcels of property it had purchased in Union County several years ago.

In 2008, Dublin took ownership of land known as Hall's Corners through eminent domain from owner John Wirchanski, with the intent of building a new interchange at state Route 161 and U.S. Route 33. But the economy slid so Dublin sought to return the land and recover about $5 million of the $6.8 million the city had paid Wirchanski for the property.

Fraser ruled against the action in 2010, with the opinion that Dublin already had assumed ownership of the largest parcel of property. The Third District Court of Appeals in Lima upheld the ruling May 23.

An interchange between the two roads was proposed several years ago in anticipation of the development of a proton-therapy cancer center nearby, but the cancer-center project never came to fruition, according to the Union County commissioners.

"The interchange was going to be built because if OSU's cancer research and treatment center went in, it was going to spawn a medical complex similar in size to the Cleveland Clinic," commissioner Gary Lee said.

"It was going to create a lot of traffic, and Dublin wanted that improvement," Commissioner Steve Stolte said. "That improvement was being driven by that development."

When Dublin sought to return the property, however, Wirchanski said the city owes him more money to cover the fair market value of the property. Fraser's ruling, upheld by the appeals court, was that Dublin already had taken possession of one of the tracts of land, citing the fact that Dublin contractors had been on the property.

Dublin has the option to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

"The city is evaluating the decision to determine the next step," Dublin public-information officer Sue Burness said.

Lee said the county commissioners haven't taken part in the process, as they do not control zoning in the county.

"I think this really will affect our residents because there is a need for an intersection improvement there, from the standpoint of both Dublin and Union County residents," Lee said. "But the question becomes, who is going to foot the bill?"

"At this point, part of the (traffic problem) is resolved because of the completion of the roundabout and the relocation of Industrial Parkway," Stolte said. "The traffic backups you used to have on Industrial Parkway and (Route) 161 are no longer the issue they once were, but you still have traffic backing up on that exit ramp, coming from Dublin at the light, and that problem is still there."

ThisWeek staff writer Jennifer Noblit contributed to this story.