Wood County man looks to continue his legal battle against Habitat for Humanity after the non-profit destroys his garden

Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 5:41 AM EDT
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WAYNE, Ohio (WTVG) - A Wood County man’s decades-old garden is now destroyed after an ongoing legal battle with Habitat for Humanity (HFH) took a turn he calls surprising. This was a story we brought you back in April.

The problems between James Hamilton and HFH started back in April when group leaders told him and his wife their garden might be on the non-profit’s property.

Hamilton says his attorney told him this wouldn’t be settled for a few years, but Wednesday, three deputy sheriffs and an HFH volunteer with some construction machinery showed up to destroy the garden.

13abc spoke with the head of HFH in Wood County, Mark Ohashi, over the phone about the situation and he sent us a written statement saying:

In February 2022, we purchased the lot located at 220 South Street in Wayne, Ohio in a private sale by owner. The lot had been vacant and unattended for several years.

Prior to beginning construction on a new Habitat home on the lot, we completed a land survey, which was provided to us by Lewandowski Engineers in April 2023. Based on the land survey, the property we purchased includes a 3 x 15 plot that has been used as a gardening space for a number of years by the homeowners located next door.

Habitat is within its legal rights to finish grade on the property, which includes the garden. As consolation, we have offered to build a raised garden on the neighbor’s side of the property line but that offer has been rejected multiple times.”

Hamilton says it wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

“I was just ready to get into the shower so, I had taken my leg braces off and when I saw the front loader come through I came running out the best I could to try and stop them,” said Hamilton. “The first thing I did was sit in the dirt and that’s when the cop came over and said are you willing to go to jail and I said yes.”

Hamilton’s denied the non-profit’s offer to build a new, raised garden, several times.

He says although the garden’s destroyed, he’s not done fighting the legal battle.

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