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County files motion to dismiss lawsuit that seeks to halt operation of Atwood Resort, golf club

FPS staff report

Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Donald R. Burns has filed a motion in Common Pleas Court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the investors of the Days Inn at Carrollton and Don and Robin Warner as a taxpayer’s lawsuit.

In a motion filed Sept. 25, Burns asks the court for an order dismissing the case because the investors did not include the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD)as a defendant in the case.

The MWCD donated nearly 500 acres of land formerly known as Atwood Resort and Conference Center to Carroll County Commissioners in February 2012. All mineral rights transferred with the property under the agreement that all proceeds from the mineral rights be reinvested into the property. The county in turn signed a five-year lease with Radius Hospitality to operate the facility, now known as Atwood Lake Resort and Golf Club.

The lawsuit claims it is illegal under Ohio law for commissioners to own, operate or lease a hotel. Thus, they say the contract with Radius is illegal. They also claim the county is spending taxpayer money to improve the facility.

Burns, in his motion, said the MWCD is a party in the agreement because of its donation to the county.

“It is obvious the plaintiff’s cause of action is based upon the legality and constitutionality of the donation agreement from MWCD and Carroll County and MWCD must be joined as a necessary party,” Burns wrote. “Only in doing so may all parties, including the plaintiffs and taxpayers, defendants Board of Carroll County Commissioners and Radius be afforded a fair and equitable disposition which will not leave the parties subject to substantial risk or incurring multiple inconsistent obligations.”

In response to the motion, Common Pleas Judge Dominick E. Olivito Jr. changed a hearing set for this Wednesday (Oct. 3) from a permanent injunction that would stop the operation of the facility to a pre-trial hearing.

Atwood Resort and Conference Center opened Oct. 1 under the management of Radius Hospitality. Work is already underway to renovate the Par 3 Golf Course with an opening day prior to Memorial Day 2013. Plans are to open the first nine holes of the 18 hole golf course by Memorial Day 2014 and the other nine holes by Memorial Day 2015.

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