The South Limestone Business Owners Association filed suit against the city on Thursday asking that work be temporarily stopped on South Limestone. They want the street opened until the city comes up with a comprehensive plan for addressing the needs of small businesses along the corridor where a major overhaul has started.
They contend that the closing of South Limestone was poorly planned and that their businesses are being irreparably damaged. Construction began Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed against the city, Mayor Jim Newberry, the Urban County Council, Vice Mayor Jim Gray and ATS Construction. It includes a request for an injunction to stop work until these issues are addressed.
The injunction hearing is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday before Fayette Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark.
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"We went to court to get a judge to help my clients stay in business and let the project proceed, but in a way that is not unfair to these businesses," said attorney Henry Graddy IV, who is representing the association and several individuals and businesses.
"We will be asking the judge to grant an injunction to suspend the contract and open South Limestone with instructions that the parties need to work more cooperatively to meet the needs of all the stakeholders," he said.
Plaintiff David Jones, owner of the Soundbar lounge, said the suit was "the last resort."
"We relied on the promises of the mayor's office and city government that this project would be run very cleanly and neatly," he said.
Specifically, the business owners said, the city promised in a meeting on Tuesday that the businesses would never go a day without delivery and pedestrian access.
"I asked that point blank," Jones said. Yet on Wednesday, "the first day of the project, we had two deliveries turned away."
On Thursday, construction workers let a delivery truck go through. "But now there is 150 feet of construction fencing six feet from my front door, stretching from High Street past Hanna's on Lime, and the street is filled with concrete slurry," he said.
"We need real access to the front door like we had before for deliveries," Jones said. "We can't ask people to carry a half-ton of supplies a block up the hill to get to our business."
At the south end of South Limestone near McDonald's, the street is filled with piles of gravel, and heavy equipment is parked there when workers leave. "They promised they would have an off-site staging area for big heavy equipment and storage of materials," Jones said.
"It appears that is not the case," he said. "It looks terrible. It is not an orderly, neat work site. It's a mess."
Jones said it appears to him that "everybody has washed their hands of this project and dumped it on the contractor. But that's why we have government. To make sure things go smoothly."
The businesses expect the city government to act on their behalf, Jones said.
Other plaintiffs are Beth Hanna, operator of Hanna's on Lime; Failte Irish Imports, Bobby Enterprises, Mashni Tailor Shop, Norman Mashni and Bombay Brazier.