Contentious hotel plan shelved, but developer forges ahead
A plan to build an adult-themed hotel that met strong opposition from residents in Orange Township apparently has been scuttled for now, although developer John Kranjec has gone to court to try to revive the proposal.
The owner of a tract of land in northern Orange Township informed Kranjec via letter last month that a purchase and sale agreement first discussed in September has been terminated due to a breach of contract.
North Orange Development LLC also told township officials in another letter last month that Kranjec failed to meet his obligations involving the purchase of the 7-acre piece of property.
Kranjec responded May 28 with a filing in Delaware County Common Pleas Court challenging the termination of the agreement. According to the filing -- called a claim of specific performance -- North Orange Development improperly terminated the agreement based on a decision that Kranjec failed to meet a closing date in April on the property. He claims he followed all proper procedures.
The court filing says Kranjec put down $5,000 in earnest money last fall for the purchase and was to put down an additional $10,000 deposit this spring.
The property, valued at $300,000, is located on Gooding Boulevard, northwest of the township fire station and just west of U.S. Route 23. The case has been assigned to Common Pleas Court Judge W. Duncan Whitney.
Township Zoning Inspector Tom Farahay said Monday, June 3, in an email to ThisWeek Olentangy Valley News that his review of Kranjec's application to develop the property has ended.
"We stopped our (development) plan review on the advice of Chris Betts of the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office because of the letter from North Orange Development LLC indicating the purchase contract between them and Kranjec was terminated and therefore Kranjec no longer has an interest in the property," Farahay said.
"I have not read Mr. Kranjec's complaint," he said. "If he prevails and does eventually buy the property, then the deal (to build a hotel) would likely be back on."
Farahay previously said the property is zoned for a hotel and that he likely would have issued a permit for Kranjec to proceed with his plan.
Township Trustees Rob Quigley, Debbie Taranto and Lisa Knapp were advised in April through an opinion from the prosecutor's office to stay out of the issue. The opinion said the township has an approved procedure that such matters are handled by the zoning inspector. In the past, trustees have followed a practice of signing off on such permits.
Robert Steele, a representative of Orange Township Community Watch, an organization formed to oppose the hotel, attended the trustees' meeting June 3. He said before the meeting that the group is pleased that plans for the hotel have stalled.
"We certainly are supportive of the landowner's decision to terminate ... We also appreciate the trustees' and zoning inspector's transparency and responsiveness (on the issue)," Steele said.
Dozens of opponents have attended recent trustee meetings and have spoken out about the proposed hotel.
Kranjec attended an April 15 trustees' meeting. At that time, he said he has operated a Belamere Suites Hotel in Perrysburg for nine years and that the hotel offers romantic getaways for couples.
"We're considered a four-star hotel that works well with our community," he said April 15. "In the past nine years, 75,000 couples have stayed with us ... This isn't a fly-by-night operation."
Also at the June 3 meeting, trustees approved a resolution to have the county board of elections place a three-year, 1.5-mill renewal parks levy on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.
The levy replaces one that has expired. The new levy has been certified by the county auditor's office to raise an estimated $1.54 million a year.
If approved, the levy would cost homeowners about $46 a year per $100,000 in property value.
In another matter, Knapp proposed that, in light of a recent $1.7 million jury award to a former female firefighter who accused the fire department of gender discrimination, more training is needed for township employees.
She said the township's liability insurance provider has risk-management programs that can target more-extensive training for employees on township policies and procedures.
Quigley said he thinks training already is provided on a yearly basis in the township. However, he and Taranto did not object to Knapp inviting an expert to a trustee meeting to further explain risk-management programs.