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Published: Thursday, 4/28/2005

Tow companies sue city, mayor over lot plans

The efforts of towing companies to block the city of Toledo from constructing a police tow lot moved yesterday to Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Al Sobb and Jerry Throne filed a lawsuit against Mayor Jack Ford and other city officials to stop the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars on the construction of a tow lot at Dura Avenue near Detroit Avenue.

The lawsuit contends the city is paying nearly eight times the fair market value for the property and that the purchase price was more than eight times what it sold for in 1993.

The tow companies were among 14 members of the Toledo Towing Association that filed a lawsuit March 14 in U.S. District Court to block the city's plans for using the land for vehicle storage. However, the complaint was dismissed last Thursday at the request of the association.

The city is using the 21-acre site to take over the storage of vehicles that have been ordered towed by police, a move that is expected to generate at least $500,000 in revenue for the city's general fund.

However, the towing firms are opposed to the centralized tow lot operation because it would cause them to lay off workers.

Judge Ruth Ann Franks scheduled a hearing for today on the tow operators' request to stop the disbursement of $50,000 that the city placed in escrow with Midwest Community Title.

The city closed on the purchase of the property last Thursday, and the money was held in escrow with Midwest Community Title, which was named as a defendant in the lawsuit. The money would be paid to the seller upon the completion of environmental work at the site, which was used most recently for storing old vehicles.

Also before Judge Franks is a request to block the city from spending any money for construction of the facility, which the plaintiffs estimate to be nearly $2 million.

Joseph Jordan, the attorney for the firms who represented the association in the earlier suit, would not discuss the lawsuit. John Madigan, an attorney for the city, also refused comment.

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