Who will blink first? The zoning battle between the Village of Hunting Valley and Roundwood Manor owner Sylvia Korey rages on.

Ms. Korey requested a special use permit to divide the historic 55,000-square-foot mansion into six luxury condominiums, but the village Planning and Zoning Commission said no. The denial was based on the village’s zoning code that requires 5 acres of land per residence. Roundwood’s 7 acres doesn’t come close to the 30 acres needed for six condos under the current code.

The house has been on the real estate market for 17 years with apparently no credible takers. The current asking price is $4.45 million. Ms. Korey has said that she fears the house could be purchased by a buyer who just wants to raze it and build a new house.

Roundwood Manor, a country estate designed by architect Philip Small, was built in 1928 by brothers Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen, known for developing Shaker Heights.  

Ms. Korey said she believes Roundwood is worth saving. That’s why she filed two lawsuits against the village in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court last year. One was a declaratory judgment claiming the village zoning code is unconstitutional because it serves no public purpose. The other lawsuit is an administrative appeal of the planning commission’s decision. The suits await a judge’s decision.

Ms. Korey said she just wants a variance, a one-time exception, not a complete change to the zoning code, to save the historical mansion.

To defend its zoning code, the village hired attorneys. So far, Hunting Valley has spent $256,000 in taxpayer money on legal fees due to the dispute. Ms. Korey won’t reveal what she has paid her lawyers. Mayor Richard Hollington said the legal bills are worth every penny because the village is protecting the zoning code that dates back to 1930 and, thus, the character of the village that covers 8-square miles with about 750 residents and 275 houses.

We are concerned about the use of tax dollars for this long-term legal battle. But until residents voice some sort of opinion about the expenditure, the legal battle will likely continue and the legal bills will mount. That is, until someone blinks first.

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