Tisdale sues again, gets delay
Published 2:30 am Saturday, October 1, 2016
City planned to tear building down Monday
Covington County Circuit Judge Ben Bowden Friday issued a 10-day injunction prohibiting the City of Andalusia from tearing down a building at 101 Pear St.
Bowden made the ruling in a complaint filed Friday morning by John W. Tisdale Jr. However, Bowden also ordered the plaintiff to amend and correct his complaint within 24 hours. Bowden said Tisdale had no standing in the case, as the property is owned by Tisdale Family Properties Inc.
Bowden also ordered the plaintiff to post a $50,000 bond securing the payment of costs, damages, and reasonable attorney fees that may be incurred if it is determined that City of Andalusia has been wrongfully enjoined.
The city abated the property, owned by Tisdale Family Properties, in early September 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, Tisdale agreed to have the building stabilized within two weeks, and the council set a deadline accordingly. That deadline was later extended by seven days. The second deadline expired this past week.
Two streets adjacent to the building, located a block off the Court Square, have been closed since the public hearing on Sept. 6, 2016.
City attorney Mark Christensen confirmed in court Friday that the city had planned to tear down the building on Mon., Oct. 3. Christensen said it is important to the city to get resolution so the streets can be reopened and businesses on the street will no longer be inconvenienced.
Bowden said, “I know because I tried to get to the barber shop this morning and the street is blocked.”
Bowden asked the plaintiffs to explain why the injunction was needed.
“What sort of irreparable harm would occur (if the city took the building down) to the extent you couldn’t get money to compensate you for damages,” he asked.
Tisdale stated on the witness stand that the building was unique and cannot be replaced.
“It is a unique building with unique architecture,” he said. “It would create a void in the National Register district.”
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Andalusia Commercial Historic District, added to the register in 1989, is roughly bounded by Coffee Street, the Seaboard railroad tracks, and South Three Notch Street. It includes the Central of Georgia Depot and the First National Bank building.
Bowden told the parties he was being asked to make a fairly important decision in a little bit of time.
“When the machinery of government wants to take somebody’s property, then it seems to me that is something that bears some contemplation. “I need to understand what the engineer is saying about the building and to understand what the danger of it all is,” Bowden said. “I need to know why Mr. Tisdale didn’t do what he said he would do. This will all take some time in court.
“I also feel a fair amount of pressure because the street is blocked off,” he said. “The businesses over there shouldn’t suffer because a landowner let his building basically fall in. They deserve an answer.”
Bowden set a trial for 9 a.m. on Fri., Oct. 7, 2016.
Asked after Friday’s hearing if he was pleased with the outcome, Tisdale declined to comment, as did his attorney, Grady Lanier.
Before filing his complaint in circuit court on Friday, Tisdale sought to have the property added to a restraining order related to a case he has in federal court regarding four other Tisdale properties in abatement. Tisdale is now representing himself in that case, after his attorney was allowed to withdraw.
U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins issued an order Thursday stating the motion was futile because the temporary restraining order expired on Aug. 26, 2016.
In a separate order, Watkins referred Tisdale’s federal suit to a U.S. magistrate judge, and cancelled a hearing in that case previously set for Oct. 6, 2016.
Watkins also noted that the plaintiffs in the federal suit are Tisdale, his wife, Jennifer Tisdale, and Tisdale Family Properties, Inc. John W. Tisdale may represent himself in the case, Watkins said, but cannot represent his wife or the corporation.