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Published: Wednesday, 8/3/2005

Holgate sued, charged with infringement of easement

A Henry County family sued the village of Holgate yesterday in federal court, alleging that municipal officials violated a property easement by permitting the public to use an access road to reach a municipal waste disposal site.

The complaint, filed by Fruth Farms Ltd. in U.S. District Court in Toledo, argues that the easement across its 55-acre property on Road H can be used only by Holgate officials and employees to access a neighboring 20-acre parcel owned by the village.

The Fruths' property, according to a document filed with the Henry County Recorder's Office, is subject to a 30-foot wide easement to the village of Holgate.

Efforts last night to reach Rick and Sandy Fruth, the managing members of Fruth Farms, and the company's attorney, David Pennington, of Dublin, Ohio, were unsuccessful.

The suit names the village and Mayor Wally Snyder as defendants and asks for compensatory and punitive damages of more than $25,000. It also asks the court to revoke the village's easement "by reason of abandonment through intentional misuse."

Reached at home yesterday, Mr. Snyder said the village believes the easement allows it to permit access by residents to the 20-acre site, which he said has been used for disposal of yard waste for a number of years.

"It's a question of interpretation," the mayor said. "We've been advised through legal counsel that we have a very complete and general easement. Obviously, the Fruths and their legal counsel have a different viewpoint."

The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge James Carr.

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