STREETSBORO -- The city may be on the hook for more than $1.8 million if it loses its case against the Shelly Co., which wants to operate a sand and gravel mine at Sahbra Farms, a 292-acre horse farm at the corner of Route 14 and Diagonal Road.

A letter dated June 8 from Brian Barger, who is acting as Shelly's attorney, to Streetsboro Law Director Paul Janis states that "damages and attorneys' fees already exceed $1.8 million, and they continue to grow."

Barger on Monday confirmed he sent the letter.

"The company has incurred damages for which we believe the city is liable, and we've put the city on notice," he said Monday, adding he did not want to discuss how the company arrived at that number.

The city is appealing a ruling by Portage County Common Pleas Judge Becky Doherty, allowing Shelly a zoning permit to operate the surface mine, in the 11th District Court of Appeals.

Mayor Glenn Broska said he was unaware of the letter, as did City Councilman Jeff Allen.

"Paul has never mentioned it to me," said Broska, declining to comment further until he could learn more about it.

City Council President Steve Michniak said he learned about the letter during the last couple days. He said he wants to hear from Janis before commenting further.

The letter, in and of itself, does not amount to much, legally, he added.

"It sounds nasty, but it's just a party claiming that's what its damages are," he said.

Allen said he's concerned Shelly may be "well within their rights by our zoning code."

Janis declined to comment on the substance of the letter, that Shelly is claiming $1.8 million in damages.

Allen said he was not surprised to learn of the potential for liability and was unhappy council did not hear about the letter sooner.

"I don't know why he's not sharing that with council," he said. "That's very bad. I don't know how we can make proper decisions if all of council does not know that."

Janis said he didn't share the letter because it looks like a "standard tactic" to "sow doubt and panic" in an opponent.

"When your perceive it's in your interest to sow doubt and panic, you will sow doubt and panic," said Janis.

The Shelly Co. is seeking conditional zoning to mine about 152 acres of Sahbra Farms and has been locked in a legal dispute with the city since the Streetsboro Planning and Zoning Commission voted last summer to reject the permit.

Citing the city's Comprehensive Plan, commission members stated the sand and gravel extraction project would not be "harmonious" with the surrounding area, which includes rural residential development, a new high school and an asphalt plant.

In March, Doherty confirmed a ruling by Magistrate Natasha Natale, overruling the commission's decision. In her judgment, Doherty said if the city wanted to eliminate surface mining, it had two years between the passage the Comprehensive Plan in 2014 and the 2016 filing of the conditional use permit application by Shelly.

"It appears probably that (Shelly's) application would never have been approved, given the prevailing position of the city and residents that surface mining is not in keeping with the master plan," stated Doherty in the decision.

"The underlying motivation to deny the conditional zoning use application emerges as a desire to deny all surface mining as a conditional use, rather than because (The Shelly Co.) failed to satisfy standards set forth in (the city zoning code)."