High court sides with history society’s access to ancient earthworks
Ohio’s historical society can proceed with efforts to gain control of a set of ancient ceremonial and burial earthworks currently maintained by a country club, the state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
At issue before the court were the 2,000-year-old Octagon Earthworks in Newark in central Ohio. The Ohio History Connection, which owns the earthworks, had sought to reclaim a lease held by the Moundbuilders Country Club to turn the site into a public park.
The historical society, a nonprofit that contracts with the state, proposed the site along with other ancient sites in Ohio for nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage List and argued it must control access to the earthworks for that nomination to proceed. But the society said its chief goal in taking over management of the earthworks is improving public access.
The court ruled 6-1 that the society can proceed with efforts to break its lease with the country club, which expires in 2078. Justices upheld two lower court rulings that found the society has not dealt with the country club in bad faith and has met the necessity standard for invoking eminent-domain rights. The high court sent the case back to trial court for resolution.