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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - More on: Charlestown Ind. Plans to Bulldoze Low-income Neighborhood for Private Development

Updating this last ILB post from yesterday, the NY Times this morning has a long story by Monica Daey on Charlestown, Indiana, headed "Where a City Sees Decay, Neighbors Fight to Save a Community." Some quotes:

Residents of the neighborhood, who say it is one of the few places in Charlestown with rentals available for $400 or $500 a month, say the code violation crackdown is meant to drive out people who do not make much. With the opening of a new bridge between Louisville, Ky., and this part of Indiana, these residents say, Charlestown leaders are dreaming of transforming their city into a high-end bedroom community for that far larger city.

“They don’t want you if they think you’re poor,” said Ellen Keith, as she cut a client’s hair at Hair & Such Beauty Salon.

“Before all this, I thought we were all equal. I thought I lived in a mansion,” said Ms. Keith, who has lived for four decades in a pristine, painstakingly decorated Pleasant Ridge home with her husband, Dave. “But this is all about who is rich and who is poor, and now people around here look at us differently based on our address. It breaks our hearts what’s happened.”

On Friday, residents who hope to save Pleasant Ridge filed a request for a preliminary injunction in state court, aided by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm that sees what is happening here as a troubling new way for a city, in essence, to clear land.

“What’s very unusual about this is using code enforcement to circumvent eminent domain law,” said Jeff Rowes, a lawyer in the case, which asks a judge to stop the city. “And we’re worried about this becoming a model — the model for how to replace housing for people of modest means in states everywhere that have passed limits on the powers of eminent domain.” [ILB emphasis]

Via the Institute for Justice, here is the 61-page complaint, plus exhibits, filed in Clark County Circuit Court on Jan. 31, 2017, and here is the 33-page memorandum of law in support of plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, filed Feb. 10 before Special Judge Maria Granger. It concludes:
The City is ignoring its own ordinance, state law, and the state and U.S. constitutions in order to force mostly vulnerable people of modest income to sell to a wealthy developer for pennies on the dollar. Plaintiffs, the Association’s members, and other Pleasant Ridge property owners are in imminent danger of the City moving on to them. Plaintiffs ask this Court to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the City from continuing its illegal and unconstitutional policy while this case is pending.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 11, 2017 11:47 AM
Posted to Indiana Government