Tisdale demands more time

Published 2:03 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016


A local property owner has asked the city to suspend and abandon the time constraints of an emergency abatement on property he owns at 101 Pear St., claiming the council abated his property in an act of retaliation.

The Andalusia City Council abated the property owned by John Tisdale earlier this month after a structural engineer employed by Tisdale said the building is unstable. An abatement is a legal action similar to a condemnation.

At the public hearing on the abatement on Tues., Sept. 6, Tisdale agreed to have the building stabilized within two weeks, and the council set a deadline accordingly. After hearing from the engineer, the council also closed two streets adjacent to the property to protect the public safety.

Last Tuesday, the council extended Tisdale’s deadline for the Pear Street property for an additional seven days. The mayor recommended the extension.

Tisdale made the demands in a letter to Mayor Earl Johnson dated Fri, Sept. 23, 2016, which he said he delivered by hand and certified mail. Tisdale also provided a copy of the letter to The Star-News.

In the letter, Tisdale said the latest abatement – one of five of his properties currently in abatement – was a “thinly disguised retaliation for our refusal to sign your unilateral release and settlement agreement in our ongoing federal lawsuit.”

In May, Tisdale, his wife, Jennifer Tisdale, and Tisdale Family Properties sued the city in U.S. District Court, asking for a restraining order against the city, and claiming that their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated in February when the city abated properties owned by them.

The lawsuit claims that they were targeted because they are legally residents of Florida.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins first issued a temporary restraining order that was to have expired on Fri., June 10; however, it was later extended until a hearing is held.

In Tisdale’s letter last week, he stated that he believes the restraining order also applies to the Pear Street property, as it was included in a settlement agreement the city offered him in August.

He also wrote that the time schedule for repair – to which he agreed in the Sept. 6 public hearing – is “unrealistic,” and claimed he had not been able to secure the building permit needed for the repairs.

Tisdale stated he was “requesting an immediate suspension and abandonment of the time constraints imposed by the city for the continuance of my work at 101 Pear Street.”

Previously, the mayor said if Tisdale did not meet the deadline, the structure at 101 Pear St. would be removed.

In other developments, Judge Watkins has granted a motion by Tisdale’s attorney, M.Adam Jones, to withdraw from the case. Watkins then ordered that Tisdale secure another attorney by Sept. 29, or notify the court whether parties in the case wished to dismiss the case or proceed pro se. Pro se is a Latin term that means “for oneself” or “on one’s own behalf.”

Last week, the city’s attorney in the case, James H. Pike of Dothan filed a memorandum in its motion to dismiss, countering Tisdale’s claims.

Yesterday afternoon, Tisdale notified the court he had not retained new council, but intended to proceed with the case.

Watkins has scheduled a hearing for Oct. 6, 2016.