- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with the state in a case involving compensation for landowners for flooding losses near Ohio’s largest inland lake.

At issue is how fast the Department of Natural Resources has responded to a court order to compensate 87 landowners near Grand Lake St. Marys, a 20-square-mile lake between Dayton and Toledo.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court unanimously turned down a request by landowners’ lawyers to hold the state in contempt of previous court rulings on the compensation.

Attorneys for the landowners, almost all farmers, argue the state is revoking previous good faith financial offers and saying it will make newer and lower offers. The state agrees landowners should be compensated but also wants new studies of the flooding’s impact considered.

The ruling returns debate over compensation to a Mercer County judge weighing the impact of the state’s new hydrological and historic evidence on remaining claims.

The Natural Resources Department is pleased the court recognized the state’s efforts to keep the process moving forward, said spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle.

The court recognized the state must “abide by its prior representations and compensate the land owners fully,” Joe Miller, an attorney for the landowners, said in a statement.