Legal battles stemming from a proposed Walmart store in Liberty Township continued for a fifth year in 2008.

Legal battles stemming from a proposed Walmart store in Liberty Township continued for a fifth year in 2008.

State and federal lawsuits related to the issue continued even after Walmart announced in May it was dropping its bid to buy a 34-acre lot in Wedgewood Commerce Center by not renewing its contract to purchase the land.

Federal court

Liberty Township has appealed to the Sixth District U.S. Court of Appeals the September decision of U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley in the Wedgewood Limited Partnership lawsuit against the township.

The federal case was filed in 2004 by the partnership's president Charles Ruma after the township denied the developer a permit to build a 220,528-square-foot Walmart at 10600 Sawmill Parkway, in the commerce center.

In particular, the township is appealing Marbley's stopping the township from enforcing a 500,000-square-foot commercial cap on the entire commerce center, said Michele Noble an attorney for the township. The cap was used as one of the reasons the township denied the zoning permit.

The township said the Walmart would exceed a 500,000-square-foot limit of commercial use that applies to the entire commerce center. Wedgewood has argued that the limit applied to only three subareas of the center.

Marbley agreed with Wedgewood's interpretation. His ruling said the township could not enforce its definition of the 500,000-square-foot limit on commercial development in the commerce center.

"The township feels very strongly about the commercial limitation cap and chose to appeal the decision," she said.

The township also has asked Marbley to find that Wedgewood should not get monetary damages because the zoning permit was rightfully denied, as Marbley ruled, for 14 reasons including the square-foot limit.

The township's actions that Marbley said violated Ruma's constitutional rights occurred when trustees issued a January 2004 public statement and instructions to the zoning department regarding future administration of the commerce center's development plan, which dates to 1992.

Marbley ruled such new instructions, for a plan that was already approved, are considered a violation of due process.

Such a zoning change would require hearings, Marbley wrote, but no hearings were held.

"The township is saying even if the is a Constitution violation here, there's no damages from the denial because it would have been denied anyway," Noble said.

Common pleas court

A Walmart case continues before Judge Duncan Whitney in the Delaware Common Pleas Court.

Wedgewood Limited Partnership is appealing the township BZA's most recent decision to uphold township zoning inspector Holly Foust's decision to deny the permit.

The appeal was filed in November 2008, after the BZA's October ruling a month earlier.

In 2004, when Liberty Township denied Wedgewood's zoning permit to build the Walmart, Ruma appealed the decision to the township's board of zoning appeals.

The BZA upheld the denial for the first time in January 2005.

Ruma appealed the 2005 decision to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.

That year, Whitney sent the case back to the BZA for its members to determine such things as "the basis of the zoning inspector's decision" and to "provide documentation of the legal basis for the 500,000-square-feet commercial limit on the Wedgewood Commerce Center Plan Development," the BZA's findings of fact document said.

The township said commercial development in the center was limited to a total of 500,000 square feet.

The center also includes retail and office space.

When these cases will be addressed in court again is not yet known.

-- Kelley Youman-Truxall contributed to this story.