(A) If no answer is filed pursuant to section 163.08 of the Revised Code, and no approval ordered by the court to a settlement of the rights of all necessary parties, the court, on motion of a public agency, shall declare the value of the property taken and the damages, if any, to the residue to be as set forth in any document properly filed with the clerk of the court of common pleas by the public agency. In all other cases, the court shall fix a time, within twenty days from the last date that the answer could have been filed, for the assessment of compensation by a jury.
(1) When an answer is filed pursuant to section 163.08 of the Revised Code and any of the matters relating to the right to make the appropriation, the inability of the parties to agree, or the necessity for the appropriation are specifically denied in the manner provided in that section, the court shall set a day, not less than five or more than fifteen days from the date the answer was filed, to hear those matters. Upon those matters, the burden of proof is upon the agency by a preponderance of the evidence except as follows:
(a) A resolution or ordinance of the governing or controlling body, council, or board of the agency declaring the necessity for the appropriation creates a rebuttable presumption of the necessity for the appropriation if the agency is not appropriating the property because it is a blighted parcel or part of a blighted area or slum.
(b) The presentation by a public utility or common carrier of evidence of the necessity for the appropriation creates a rebuttable presumption of the necessity for the appropriation.
(c) Approval by a state or federal regulatory authority of an appropriation by a public utility or common carrier creates an irrebuttable presumption of the necessity for the appropriation.
(2) Subject to the irrebuttable presumption in division (B)(1)(c) of this section, only the judge may determine the necessity of the appropriation. If, as to any or all of the property or other interests sought to be appropriated, the court determines the matters in favor of the agency, the court shall set a time for the assessment of compensation by the jury not less than sixty days from the date of the journalization of that determination, subject to the right of the parties to request mediation under section 163.051 of the Revised Code and the right of the owner to an immediate appeal under division (B)(3) of this section. Except as provided in division (B)(3) of this section, an order of the court in favor of the agency on any of the matters or on qualification under section 163.06 of the Revised Code shall not be a final order for purposes of appeal. An order of the court against the agency on any of the matters or on the question of qualification under section 163.06 of the Revised Code shall be a final order for purposes of appeal. If a public agency has taken possession prior to such an order and such an order, after any appeal, is against the agency on any of the matters, the agency shall restore the property to the owner in its original condition or respond in damages, which may include the items set forth in division (A)(2) of section 163.21 of the Revised Code, recoverable by civil action, to which the state consents.
(3) An owner has a right to an immediate appeal if the order of the court is in favor of the agency in any of the matters the owner denied in the answer, unless the agency is appropriating property in time of war or other public exigency imperatively requiring its immediate seizure, for the purpose of making or repairing roads which shall be open to the public without charge, for the purpose of implementing rail service under Chapter 4981. of the Revised Code, or under section 307.08, 504.19, 6101.181, 6115.221, 6117.39, or 6119.11 of the Revised Code or by a public utility owned and operated by a municipal corporation as the result of a public exigency.
(C) When an answer is filed pursuant to section 163.08 of the Revised Code, and none of the matters set forth in division (B) of this section is specifically denied, the court shall fix a time within twenty days from the date the answer was filed for the assessment of compensation by a jury.
(D) If answers are filed pursuant to divisions (B) and (C) of this section, or an answer is filed on behalf of fewer than all the named owners, the court shall set the hearing or hearings at such times as are reasonable under all the circumstances, but in no event later than twenty days after the issues are joined as to all necessary parties or twenty days after rule therefor, whichever is earlier.
(E) The court, with the consent of the parties, may order two or more cases to be consolidated and tried together, but the rights of each owner to compensation, damages, or both shall be separately determined by the jury in its verdict.
(F) If an answer is filed under section 163.08 of the Revised Code with respect to the value of property, the trier of fact shall determine that value based on the evidence presented, with neither party having the burden of proof with respect to that value.
(G) If the court determines the matter in the favor of the owner as to the necessity of the appropriation or whether the use for which the agency seeks to appropriate the property is a public use, in a final, unappealable order, the court shall award the owner reasonable attorney's fees, expenses, and costs.
Effective Date: 09-10-1987; 05-06-2005; 2007 SB7 10-10-2007 .