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Published: Friday, 8/13/2004

Kim's Auto owners packing up

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Herman Blankenship says it's a 'dirty trick' that he has to move before his appeals are done. Herman Blankenship says it's a 'dirty trick' that he has to move before his appeals are done.
ZAPOTOSKY / BLADE Enlarge

Kim's Auto and Truck Service Inc., the last of 16 businesses purchased by Toledo to make room for the new Jeep Plant along Stickney Avenue in 1999, is preparing to move.

The city has told its owners to be off the property by Tuesday or be considered trespassers.

Herman Blankenship, co-owner with his wife, Kim, said he has stopped working on vehicles and has begun packing. But he's not happy about it.

"I think this is a dirty trick to get us out of here while this is being considered by the Supreme Court," Mr. Blankenship said.

The city's effort to take over the property has been tied up in court since 2002. On July 27, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Charles Doneghy issued a ruling ordering the company to turn over the property to the city within 21 days.

A Lucas County Common Pleas jury ruled in September, 2002, that the city did not abuse its discretion in condemning the land for the Jeep plant project, even though DiamlerChysler at that time had no definite plans for the property.

In October, 2003, the Ohio 6th District Court of Appeals upheld the award and the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case. In June, an appeal was filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Adam Loukx, Toledo's senior attorney, said the Blankenships have known this day was coming for two years and have had plenty of time to make plans, regardless if they wanted to fight the eminent domain in court.

Barbara Herring, the city's law director, said the Kim's Auto site will be used as a truck entrance for suppliers. DiamlerChrysler announced this month that two German and one South Korean companies will operate three new facilities at the plant.

"Actually, [DiamlerChrysler] have been incredibly patient over all of these years," Ms. Herring said. "This land is vitally important to them, and we've now reached a critical point."

Mrs. Herring said the city was required by law to pay for moving Kim's and storage for up to a year.

Mr. Blankenship believes that the value of his property set by a jury - $104,000 - is not enough for the shop to move.

Consumer activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a longtime critic of Toledo's efforts to keep the Jeep plant, weighed in last week, appealing to Mayor Jack Ford the save the auto shop.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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