Friday, November 12, 1999

Truck ban puts 2 villages at odds


Lockland sues Lincoln Hts. over roadway

BY SARA J. BENNETT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A 0.4-mile section of Shepherd Lane has Lockland suing neighbor Lincoln Heights over the right to run trucks there.

        Lockland claims Lincoln Heights' commercial truck ban ordinance is unconstitutional because it excludes Lockland trucks — which could use Shepherd to get to and from Interstate 75 — while allowing trucks headed to or coming from Lincoln Heights.

        Lincoln Heights contends that the section of Shepherd is residential and would be harmed by trucks roaring through.

        “The residents are against it,” said Mayor Lovey B. Andrews. “A lot of them feel it will cause structural damage on their homes, and the noise level is so high with trucks.”

        Shepherd Lane apparently has been a bone of contention for some time. Will Hicks, an attorney representing Lincoln Heights, said a truck ban ordinance was struck down by an appeals court in 1969, then a revised version was upheld in 1971 by the Ohio Supreme Court.

        Lincoln Heights' current ordinance bans commercial tractor trucks or semi-trailers on any public street except when traveling to or from places in Lincoln Heights where they are registered or hired.

        Earlier this year, Lockland approached Lincoln Heights about lifting the ban. Lockland, which is experiencing a redevelopment spurt that includes a hotel and restaurant development off Shepherd, claims Lincoln Heights' section of the road is an important link between the two villages that provides access to I-75 and Reading Road.

        Lincoln Heights refused to lift its ban. Lockland filed suit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court claiming the ordi nance is discriminatory.

        Also mentioned in the suit is a $124,800 grant Lincoln Heights applied for in 1994 from the Ohio Public Works Commission to improve Shepherd Lane. The application asked whether there were any truck bans on the road. LaVerne Mitchell, acting village manager at the time, answered no.

        Lockland's suit contends Lincoln Heights “unlawfully obtained state funds ... and now must be enjoined from improperly enjoying the benefits of such unlawful representation.”

        Ms. Mitchell, who recently was elected to Lincoln Heights' village council, could not be reached for comment.

        Andrew Patton, an attorney representing Lockland, said the intent of mentioning the grant was not to force Lincoln Heights to pay money back.

        “We just want the ban lifted,” he said.

        Cathy Coldiron, program representative for the Ohio Public Works Commission, said it's unclear whether Lincoln Heights would have to pay back the money.

        Projects submitted through the Local Transportation Improvement Program are ranked according to several factors, she said. A payback probably wouldn't be requested unless an inaccurate application answer substantially altered how a project would have been ranked.

        Lockland's suit is still in its early stages, and attorneys for Lincoln Heights say they hope to negotiate some sort of settlement before it goes to court.

        Lincoln Heights is arguing that a 1996 revision to the truck ban ordinance eliminates the law's discriminatory nature, bringing it in line with the version upheld in 1971.

        Meanwhile, some residents are watching the suit closely.

        “Those people fought to keep those trucks off there, why should they have to deal with that?” said Mattie Wilkerson, who lived on Shepherd during the 1970s. “The businesses are in Lockland, so (the trucks) should go through Lockland. If it was businesses on Shepherd Lane, I would say yes, but there's nothing there but houses.”

       



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