A building that recently was the subject of a five figure remodeling project was just demolished by Washington County’s redevelopment agency due to the order of North Franklin officials according to documents from a lawsuit that was filed in federal court. According to the complaint, John S.Bernett and his wife were fixing a building on the street and had put $42,000 into the project itself. On March 28, Bernett arrived to do work on the property, only to determine that the building was gone and that it had been demolished.
The man claims that the taxes on the building were paid and that the electrical service was still on. He called the township, which said that the Washington County Redevelopment Authority was responsible. The authority claimed that the township provided the address and information that had justified the demolition. It is unclear of which party was actually responsible for the demolition of the building or the project itself. One North Franklin solicitor said that he had not yet seen the lawsuit and that he couldn’t comment about what may or may not have happened in the situation.
Assistant Executive Director of the authority, Stephen Wiencek, said that municipalities are responsible for identifying the buildings that are in violation of any codes. The authority then uses federal funds to demolish those buildings. However, the Bernetts claim that their rights to having equal protection were violated based on what happened. They want to have some form of compensation for the losses and also for the punitive damages in the long run. It is not yet clear what the decision may be regarding the circumstances in this case since there are many elements that remain to be fairly unclear.
There are many people who argue that if anything, the Bernetts should at least be paid what is owed to them based on their losses. Since they had put so much money into the remodeling project for the building, it seems fair that they should be able to gain that money back, if not gaining any extra compensation for the rest of the losses that they may have incurred as a result of the demolition. Some also believe that an issue that remains to be addressed is why the Bernetts weren’t notified that a demolition was going to occur. It seems that if they had invested so much money into the project, someone should have contacted them to inform them that the building was going to be demolished or that there were concerns that were present.
It is not yet known when a decision about the situation will be released. Some claim it may be as early as this year, although others claim that based on the vagueness of the case, it may stretch on into early next year before a final settlement or agreement is created based on the circumstnaces. Ultimately, it is one of the most unique cases to come out of the remodeling industry in the recent weeks.