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Lawsuit filed as plans stall for Pizza Hut Drive-In across from Ava High

Traffic question blocks drive-in

Plans to build a Pizza Hut Drive-In restaurant across from Ava High School will not be approved until the developer addresses a question of traffic and access to the school's adjacent athletic fields, the city Planning Commission said Wednesday night.

Earlier in the day, an easement granting access to the fields also became the focus of a civil suit filed by attorney Jeanelle J. Fenno, whose office is next to the proposed drive-in.

Mr. Fenno claims the school district and landowner FMP Realty - both listed as defendants in the suit - violated the terms of a December 2007 court order that said the district must receive an easement in return for selling the land to FMP. Mr. Fenno contends the deed lacks such an easement, and he accuses of district of breach of fiduciary duty while claiming FMP Realty was unjustly enriched.

Mr. Fenno also questioned the technical ownership of the property, which was recently transferred to a separate company called FMP Realty LLC.

Developer Lavinie Gale, who already owns Pizza Hut franchises in Noble County, has a deal pending to buy the West Olive Street property from FMP. The lawsuit appeared to be about little more than semantics, he said.

During the Planning Commission meeting, Mr. Gale proposed moving a curb cut that is now used to access the athletic fields. But commissioners said they worried about safety and traffic flow if the curb cut was too close to the corner of Locust Street. Officials said they wanted to see the Pizza Hut plans redrawn and a new review sought from the state Department of Transportation.

Having tabled the Pizza Hut plans last month, the commission took no action Wednesday.

In other business, commissioners also listened to plans from developer Berkly Fales, who wants to buy part of the Oracle Cor land on Heather Lane and build apartments for seniors, and project manager Liuka Grover, who wants to build 28 homes on 12 acres of the long-delayed Leggett's Creek subdivision in Ava.

Jeanelle Fenno can be reached at Fenno3@gmail.com.




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