A lawsuit filed against the man behind a major Berkshire Township development has been dismissed.
Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by Schottenstein Home against developer Pat Shivley that alleged he has spread “false information and claims” about his project that has caused Schottenstein Homes to lose sales, prevented the company from closing on contracts and reduced property values in the area.
The company says that it has lost $3.9 million because of Shivley’s claims that the development is “imminent.” Schottenstein Homes argued that Shivley’s claims amounted to defamation because he does not own all the property necessary, nor does he have proper zoning, utilities or financing to bring the project to fruition. The company also claimed that Shivley had misrepresented the number of jobs the development will create and the amount of tax revenue it will generate.
However, Gormley rejected the defamation claim because the statements Schottenstein Homes alleged have harmed their business are not about the company.
“Those kinds of statements are not ones for which the defendants could be found liable for slander or libel,” Gormley wrote.
A spokesman for Shivley said there was little doubt the case had no merit.
“We were confident from the beginning that Schottenstein could not sue us for discussing plans for future development, and we’re glad the court agreed,” spokesman Phil Craig said in a statement.
The Shivley development – slated for a more than 800-acre site not far from the Ohio 36-U.S. 37 interchange off of Interstate 71 – is said to include retail, office, commercial and residential uses, according to documents filed with Delaware County.
The residential portion of the development will include 560 single-family homes and 300 multi-family units with a total of about 1,700 residents.
The site is also slated to include recreation and entertainment facilities; four to eight hotels with as many as 1,200 rooms; 500,000 square feet of inline specialty retail and restaurant space; 1.5 million square feet of retail space; 750,000 square feet of office space; 300,000 square feet of warehouse distribution space; and two car dealerships.
A new interchange expected to cost about $50 million will accompany the development, representatives for Shivley have said.
“NorthGate continues to put full attention on the development projects that are moving forward at a brisk pace,” Craig said.
The final annexation from Berkshire Township into the village of Sunbury was completed last week to make way for the development. Once fully developed, which could take as many as 20 years, NorthGate Centre is expected to generate $1.2 million in income tax revenue, $2.6 million in property tax revenue and $20.7 million in sales tax revenue, according to documents filed with the county.
Craig said he expects to announce some of the companies that will occupy the development as well as a time line for the project in the next two months.