Andalusia, Tisdale settle

Published 6:38 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Andalusia City Council on Tuesday accepted a mediation settlement agreement and release of all claims in a case John W. Tisdale Jr., filed against the city in U.S. District Court.

City attorney Mark Christensen said the agreement was “hammered out” in mediation Monday afternoon.

The suit, filed on behalf of Tisdale, his wife, Jennifer Tisdale, and Tisdale Family Properties, asked for a restraining order against the city, and claimed that their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated by the city’s abatement of properties they own. The restraining order was granted this past summer, but the lawsuit stalled after the Tisdales’ attorney withdrew from the case.

The case concerned abatements at:

  • 223 South Cotton St.,
  • A lot on South Cotton St. adjoining the train depot property;
  • 254 Historic Central Street; and
  • 201 S. Three Notch St.

Christensen said the agreement releases all claims against the city and city officials, but also provides the Tisdales more time to complete work on the abated properties.

The agreement also sets intermediary deadlines for the projects, Christensen said, and provides for regular inspections of the properties when the work begins.

“The plaintiffs agreed that if any properties belonging to them are abated in the future, their remedy will be to appeal to circuit court locally,” Christensen said.

When asked via email for a comment Tuesday, John Tisdale replied The Star-News should check with the federal judge involved to see if the settlement was sealed. The newspaper received a copy of the settlement agreement from the city at Tuesday’s council meeting.

In the settlement, the parties agreed:

  • To release all claims against the city, its employees and elected officials in this case. The release does not apply to claims asserted in the lawsuit styled John W. Tisdale Jr. v. City of Andalusia, which is pending in Covington County Circuit Court.
  • At 223 S. Cotton St., the plaintiff has until July 1, 2017, to address abatement issues, which included repairing the depot, removing debris, and demolition of adjacent structures.
  • On the lot adjacent to 223 S. Cotton St., the plaintiff is to padlock rail cars and locomotives and post no trespassing signs no later than Dec. 26, 2016. A chain link or wrought iron fence that fully encloses the rail cars and locomotives is to be erected by July 1, 2017.
  • At 201 S. Three Notch, the plaintiffs have until March 1, 2017, to install downspouts, trim windows, and paint exterior woodwork. Other work is to be completed by July 1, 2017.
  • At 254 Historic Central St., the plaintiff has until July 1, 2017, to demolish four structures.
  • In each location, city officials will be allowed to enter and inspect the premises at 10 a.m. on the last Thursday of every month.
  • In each of the abatements, if the issues have not been remedied by July, the city can proceed with abatement, and the time for accomplishing the abatement would end on Oct. 1, 2017.
  • The plaintiffs must obtain all applicable permits for work.

The parties also agreed to a Joint Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice to immediately dissolve the temporary restraining order.