|BENTON BENALCAZAR; KATHERINE BENALCAZAR,
GENOA TOWNSHIP, OHIO,
Defendant-Appellee (No. 20-3995),
GTRRD, INC.; LUKE SCHROEDER; JANINE SCHROEDER,
| Nos. 20-3995/4044|
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Ohio at Columbus.
No. 2:18-cv-01805—Algenon L. Marbley, District Judge.
Argued: June 2, 2021
Decided and Filed: June 10, 2021
Before: SUTTON, Chief Judge; DAUGHTREY and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.
SUTTON, Chief Judge. Nestled next to the Hoover Reservoir in central Ohio, Genoa
Township boasts scenic views just a short drive north of Columbus. Like many communities,
the Township has struggled to balance demands for growth against preferences for more
greenspace. Two decades ago, Benton and Katherine Benalcazar bought 43 acres in
the Township, which was zoned mainly for rural use and which indeed had many rural
qualities—plenty of trees, few houses, plenty of undeveloped land. A few years ago, they had a
change of heart, preferring to use the property for a development rather than to preserve its
bucolic nature. The Benalcazars applied to rezone their property to enable the development of a
housing complex not far from the west side of the reservoir, and the Township’s board of
trustees approved the request.
The approval upset several Township residents. As permitted by state law, they passed a
referendum that prevented the rezoning.
The Benalcazars sued, claiming the Township violated their rights under the Due Process
and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Township settled the matter, signing
a consent decree that permitted the Benalcazars to develop their property, though with fewer
houses than they had first proposed. Frustrated by this perceived end run around the referendum
process, a group of residents intervened and moved to dismiss the Benalcazars’ lawsuit and
scuttle the settlement. The district court approved the consent decree, and so do we.