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July 16, 2014

Judge: Restaurant owner didn't try other remedies

Lawyer may bring complaint to zoning board

The lawyer for a Logansport restaurant owner said he plans on pursuing the remedies a judge ruled were not attempted before filing a lawsuit against the city.

Royal Rentals LLC, owned by Bernadene Thimlar of Royal Center, filed the lawsuit against the city and several of its departments in August 2010 seeking damages for an alleged unlawful taking of property without compensation. The lawsuit ultimately charges that the city took too long to issue a certificate of occupancy for Thimlar’s restaurant, Fire Stone Grill, on South Third Street in Logansport.

C. Anthony Ashford, an attorney out of Chesterton, represents Royal Rentals in the lawsuit.

The city wouldn’t issue the certificate of occupancy until Thimlar put a landscaping buffer in the restaurant’s parking lot, which Ashford argued it did not need. In November 2011, the city agreed to issue the certificate of occupancy if it could install a temporary buffer of potted plants on her property, which both sides agreed to.

The lawsuit calls for the city to pay Royal Rentals the rental value of the restaurant for the about two years Thimlar was denied use of it along with her attorney’s fees.

Michael Morrow, an attorney with Indianapolis-based Stephenson, Morrow and Semler, represents the city in the suit. He argues Royal Rentals did not bring the restaurant into the necessary compliance for an occupancy permit.

Carroll County Superior Court Judge Kurtis Fouts, the special judge in the case, writes in his order that Royal Rentals “failed to exhaust the remedies available to it under local ordinance prior to filing suit in this matter.”

Ashford said because the charge was dismissed without prejudice, Royal Rentals is free to pursue the available remedies Fouts ruled it failed to exhaust before continuing to litigate the claim for compensation.

One of those remedies may include going before the Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals, Ashford continued. That body has the ability to determine whether the restaurant’s parking lot was a preexisting parking lot.

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