Appeals Court Strikes Down Cincinnati Residency Ordinance

The First District Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling from the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas that struck down a Cincinnati city ordinance prohibiting city employees from living outside the state of Ohio.

In a unanimous decision authored by Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, the court affirmed a decision by the court of common pleas that granted summary judgment in favor of Cincinnati Organized and Dedicated Employees in a case where the city had filed a declaratory judgment action asking the court to declare the city ordinance (Cincinnati Municipal Code 308-83) to be lawful.

The court found that the city ordinance was in conflict with a 2006 state law, R.C. 9.481, that was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court in 2009.

In describing the state statute, Dinkelacker wrote: “R.C. 9.481 is entitled ‘Political subdivisions generally prohibited from imposing residency requirements on employees.’ Subsection (A) is a definitional section. R.C. 9.481(B)(1) states that ‘[e]xcept as otherwise provided in division (B)(2) of this section, no political subdivision shall require any of its employees, as a condition of employment, to reside in any specific area of the state.’ Subsection (B)(2)(b) provides an exception that permits localities to require certain employees to live no farther away than adjacent counties to ‘ensure adequate response times by certain employees of political subdivisions to emergencies or disasters while ensuring that those employees generally are free to reside throughout the state[.]’ Finally, subsection (C) states that ‘[e]xcept as provided in division (B)(2) of this section, employees of political subdivisions of this state have the right to reside any place they desire.’

Judge Dinkelacker concluded: “…[W]e hold that Cincinnati Municipal Code 308-83(a) is in conflict with R.C. 9.481, and it is, therefore, void.”

The opinion was joined by Judges J. Howard Sundermann and Sylvia Sieve Hendon.

Cincinnati v. State, 2012-Ohio-3162
Civil Appeal From: Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas
Judgment Appealed From Is: Affirmed
Date of Judgment Entry on Appeal: July 13, 2012
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