City Files Motion to Dismiss Anthony’s Demolition Lawsuit
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The city of Youngstown has filed a motion to dismiss a complaint alleging that it acted illegally when it demolished the former Anthony’s On The River building in August.
The owner of the property, Two Bridges LLC, sued the city, Mike Durkin in his capacity as superintendent of the demolition and housing department, and Barry Finley, as the city’s fire chief, in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in September.
Two Bridges’ complaint requests that a judge order the city to pay the costs of demolition, since the owners were not notified or afforded a hearing before the structure was torn down. The lawsuit alleged that the city acted “illegally” and “unconstitutionally” when it demolished the building.
Yet the city said in a filing last week that the complaint should be dismissed since it was filed as an administrative appeal and says the court lacks jurisdiction in the matter.
In its filing, the city said that the Seventh District Court of Appeals has determined that there is no requirement for prior notice or a hearing in the case of an emergency demolition. Since the demolition did not occur within a “quasi-judicial” proceeding, the court lacks jurisdiction, court papers say.
The city decided in late August to demolish the 110-year-old building at 15 Oak Hill Ave. “for the immediate preservation of the public peace, welfare and safety.” The building once housed the St. Vincent de Paul Society and then Anthony’s On The River, a once-popular restaurant. It has been vacant for about a decade.
However, the structure was razed four days before City Council could vote on whether to allocate up to $48,000 toward demolition. Council – irked because the administration acted before the vote and without its consent – defeated the ordinance 4-3 and the money was not appropriated.
According to a vacant properties and demolition document published by the city, Youngstown has the legal right to order, perform or contract emergency and nonemergency demolitions of unsafe structures. An emergency demolition is for properties that are in “imminent danger of collapse,” the document states.
Under an emergency demolition, the fire department is authorized to condemn the structure so demolition could begin. The cost of demolition is recovered from the property owner. An emergency demolition also allows the city to suspend the competitive bid process in order to expedite the demo work.
Pictured: The site of the former Anthony’s on the River during the building’s demolition in August.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.