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Three Bills, Inc. v. City of Parma – Case Brief Summary (Ohio)

In Three Bills, Inc. v. City of Parma, 111 Ohio App. 3d 736, 111 Ohio App. 3d 740, 676 N.E.2d 1273 (1996), a developer, as required by ordinance, "dedicated" a portion of land to the City for "parks and green area purposes." Id. at 743.

Later, the City leased the property to a broadcasting company, which built "a communications tower, service road, and maintenance building on the property." Id.

The developer filed suit against the City and the broadcasting company "to restore the property to its previous condition and prohibit its use for commercial purposes." Id.

"Assuming without deciding that a trust was created" by the dedication of the land, the Court of Appeals of Ohio held that the developer was without standing, because under Ohio case law, settlors and their successors could not sue to enforce a trust. Id. at 745.

The court noted that "a settlor within the meaning of the law of trusts is the person who creates the trust. Thus, for the purposes of this case, the developer was the settlor of a charitable trust." Id.

The court also recognized that the public, in as much as they are beneficiaries of charitable trusts, have a right to enforce their construction. In the same respect, adjacent property owners have a special interest, in as much as they are beneficiaries of restrictive covenants, which enable them to maintain an action to enjoin misuse of public lands. Nonetheless, the developer did not produce any evidence in the record proving they owned property in the City, adjacent to the land in question or otherwise, nor did they even allege in the complaint that they owned property in the City. . . Accordingly, the developer lacks standing to enforce the construction of a charitable trust and to enforce the terms of a restrictive covenant. Id. at 745-46.