Magistrate dismisses lawsuit over West Chester schoolhouse sale

Community Montessori School in Olde West Chester has purchased the historic Station Road Schoolhouse property (pictured) on Station Road. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

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Community Montessori School in Olde West Chester has purchased the historic Station Road Schoolhouse property (pictured) on Station Road. GREG LYNCH / STAFF

The appeal and accompanying consent decree that sanctions the sale of the historic Station Road schoolhouse to the owners of the Community Montessori School has been dismissed.

Magistrate Justin Lane issued his opinion Friday morning, nullifying the appeal by Todd and Jamie Minniear, owners of the Montessori school, against the township and closed the case.

RELATED: Legal issues could doom the sale of the historic Station Road schoolhouse

“The court finds that the notice of appeal in this matter is a nullity and strikes it from the record,” Lane wrote.

West Chester Twp. trustees agreed to sell the schoolhouse to the owners of Community Montessori School for $250,000 last May, but the zoning board nixed the sale.

The Minniears appealed the zoning board’s decision in Butler County Common Pleas Court. The two sides recently came to terms on the deal. When asked if the dismissal will squash the sale, West Chester’s attorney Scott Phillips said at this point he is not sure of the impact on the sale.

“Until I have an opportunity to more fully review and discuss with my client, I do not know the answer to that question,” Phillips told the Journal-News.

Neighbors have tried to intervene in this case because they have traffic and other concerns.

MORE: West Chester Twp. to sell historic schoolhouse over objections

One of his those residents, Dave Lindenschmidt, who unsuccessfully ran for trustee in November, said the township should turn the schoolhouse over to the Historical Society for a museum.

“From my personal perspective, the historical society should get this schoolhouse,” he said. “That was the intent from 20 years ago when the township bought it and I think the township should follow through on that and make sure it turns into a historical society museum.”

West Chester Twp. Trustee Mark Welch went through the history of the old schoolhouse and the historical society at a recent meeting, saying the historical society in 2014 offered to lease the building for $3,000 a year for rent and utilities if the township made some improvements to bring it up to code. He said the trustees at the time were not interested in leasing it. Instead, they wanted to be rid of the property because “it is a money pit.”

Then in June 2016, the trustees said they would give the historical society the building and grounds for $1 and the society had until August to accept.

“We were giving it away for a dollar, the only thing we asked was that they take ownership and that they maintain it,” Welch said. “The historical society did not act on that contract. The township was literally giving it to them.”

The Minniears said they can’t talk about the case and their attorney could not be reached for comment.

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