County OKs Mall Road Settlement

Belmont County will get $48,500 as part of legal settlement in a case involving construction of a connector road in the U.S. 40/Ohio Valley Plaza area.

County commissioners Wednesday unanimously approved the settlement, which requires Lou Stein and Home Pro Enterprises to pay the county $48,500 toward building the road.

On Nov. 20, counsel for the commissioners filed a motion with the Belmont County Common Pleas Court asking the court to examine a 1999 ruling directing Stein and Home Pro Enterprises to pay for the construction of a 300-foot connector road. The road would have extended from U.S. 40 to property owned by Stein near the Ohio Valley Plaza and land possessed by the Stewart family. No development was ever started on the land, and construction of the road was never initiated by Stein.

The Stewart family also was a party to the law suit seeking clarification of the court’s 1999 ruling. Attorneys for all parties were present for a pre-trial hearing Jan. 17 before Judge Frank Fregiato where the settlement was initiated, according to Commissioner Mark Thomas.

“Lawyers worked on and resolved the case at apparently everyone’s agreement,” Thomas said. “We obviously acted only upon the county’s portion of the lawsuit, but it is my understanding through our counsel the entire matter may be resolved.”

The Stewart family did not release details of any deal they may have achieved, but they have said they do not oppose the building of the connector road.

“We just wanted make sure it was done right,” Bob Stewart said.

Stein said he was glad to have the legal matter resolved, and added the settlement should “open up the potential for a lot of new economic development” in the Ohio Valley Mall/Ohio Valley Plaza area.

He said he could not comment yet as to whether any tenants had signed deals to locate on his property.

The proposed connector road is to start near the All Fore One miniature golf course along U.S. 40, then extend south west of the Ohio Valley Plaza behind Sam’s Club and wind behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement store.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is asking Belmont County to transfer $1.9 million to start construction of the connector, which would link up with a roadway and bridge over Interstate 70 to be constructed by ODOT. The ODOT road then would join with one presently being constructed behind the Ohio Valley Mall by the Cafaro Co., owners of the mall.

ODOT then intends to extend the new highway to Mall Road.