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Published: Wednesday, 1/12/2005

Business owners sue city for costs tied to relocation

The owners of a vehicle-repair business acquired for construction of DaimlerChrysler's Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant sued the city of Toledo yesterday for the costs incurred in moving their operations to a nearby location.

Herman and Kim Blankenship, the owners of Kim's Auto & Truck Service, filed a lawsuit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, alleging that the city failed to comply with the federal Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Policies Act.

They are asking for more than $50,000 in expenses and other costs related to moving the business, which includes a snow removal service, to the new location at 3705 Stickney Ave.

Named as defendants were Mayor Jack Ford and Michael Badik, who, according the complaint, is the city's acting housing manager.

The Blankenships also are asking the court to award them an undetermined amount in punitive damages for actions by the city that have "willfully, intentionally, and maliciously" interfered with the couple's business.

Terry Lodge, the Blankenships' attorney, said since being forced to move to the new location in August, his clients have been unable to continue their vehicle-repair operation because they don't have a building to house it.

Mr. Lodge also said equipment used in the snow-removal operation was stolen because the new property is not protected with a chain-link fence.

"We believe the city is deliberately dragging its feet," said Mr. Lodge during a news conference outside the county clerk of court's office in the courthouse.

The property, located at 2708 Stickney near Expressway Drive, was among the last of 16 businesses and 83 houses the city bought or seized through eminent domain to clear land for construction of the Jeep plant in 1999.

In September, 2002, a Lucas County Common Pleas Court jury accepted the city's appraised value of the property of $104,000. The award was later upheld by Ohio's 6th District Court of Appeals.

When the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the city in August proceeded with demolition of the structures on the property.

Adam Loukx, a senior attorney with the city's law department, said he had not received a copy the lawsuit and therefore would not be able to comment.

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