The Media, Pa., club has been battling with the borough for 20 years over a dilapidated dam and roadway, and has taken the fight to federal court. The club is seeking a declaratory judgment, an injunction against any further efforts to rezone the property, and damages.
Broomall’s Lake Country Club in Media, Pa., that has been battling Media Borough for 20 years over a dilapidated dam and roadway, and has taken the fight to federal court over a rezoning proposal, the Swarthmore, Pa., Delaware County Daily Times reported.
“If you read that statute, it’s going to be public use now,” said Gene Bonner, representing Broomall’s Lake CC. “Our position is that Media Borough is trying to punish us for exercising our constitutional rights. The complaint pretty much speaks for itself.”
That complaint, filed May 9 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claims Media is retaliating against the club for attempting to have the borough meet its obligations to repair the dam and roadway through the courts, the Daily Times reported.
Changing the zoning from its current “residential” designation to a “municipal, educational, recreational and community use” district would diminish the property’s value by approximately $5 million and convert it to public use, according to the complaint.
The club is alleging violations of the First, Fifth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution against the borough, Mayor Bob McMahon and borough council. Borough Solicitor Bob Scott did not comment to the Daily Times.
The conflict stems from a dam and section of roadway used to access the club that was closed in 1996 after falling into disrepair. The dam separates properties owned by Media and Broomall’s Lake Country Club, the Daily Times reported.
Media filed a complaint in 2006 seeking a declaration that the club was responsible for upkeep and maintenance of both the roadway and the dam. The club responded with a counterclaim that those responsibilities lay with the borough, the Daily Times reported.
The parties later settled with a stipulation laying out their responsibilities, but a disagreement soon arose over whether West Third Street should be a one-way road, as Media wanted, or two-way, as the club argued it had been prior to its closure, the Daily Times reported.
This led to another round of litigating in 2012, when Broomall’s Lake Country Club filed a petition for contempt against the borough, alleging it was willfully refusing to comply with the terms of the stipulation. Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge James. F. Proud issued an order in 2014 directing Media not to proceed with a one-way street and to adhere to the terms of the stipulation, the Daily Times reported.
“In retaliation against the club for filing its petition to hold the Borough of Media in contempt, the (defendants)…have refused to take action necessary in order to complete the repair of the dam and West Third Street as it crosses over the dam,” according to the complaint.
The club said borough council held a special meeting in September with scant public notice to discuss zoning changes that would impact the Broomall’s Lake Country Club and has already authorized Scott to draw up an ordinance for those proposed changes, the Daily Times reported.
“The only reason that the Borough of Media and the members of borough council are proposing such a re-zoning is in direct retaliation against the Broomall’s Lake County Club and its members for utilizing their First Amendment right to access the court to air their grievances against the Borough of Media,” the complaint claims.
The club additionally argues that moving forward with the zoning changes would effectively result in private property being taken for public use without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and a denial of property without due process, in violation of the 14th Amendment, the Daily Times reported.
The club is seeking a declaratory judgment, an injunction against any further efforts to rezone the property, and compensatory and punitive damages, the Daily Times reported.
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