LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Saying they have never been charged with criminal violations, the owners of Dino’s Foodmart are challenging Metro Government’s order to vacate the property at 26th Street and West Broadway.
Attorneys for the 24-hour gas station/convenience store, which has had more than 500 calls for police in the last year ranging from shootings to drugs and prostitution, filed an appeal of the order to vacate in August. The appeal lists 15 reasons why the city can’t shut the store down, including “lack of due process” to bias and prejudice.
“You cannot claim that a third party that engages in a crime on your property — they come onto your grocery store and they commit a crime — you can’t hold that against the grocery store owner, who actually calls the police and asks for their help,” said Nader George Shunnarah, who is representing Dino’s owner and real estate owner. “They have never been charged with any criminal violations — the civil violation they’re accused of is a nuisance.”
Dino’s was deemed a public nuisance in early April due to multiple citations for criminal activity occurring on the property. According to Chapter 156.057 of the Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances, a public nuisance can be defined as: “Any premise or place where law enforcement officers have, on more than one occasion in the preceding 12-month period, criminally cited or arrested persons for violations of the law governing prostitution, gambling, the sale or use of alcoholic beverages on or from either licensed or unlicensed premises, trafficking in marijuana or any controlled substances, or any felony offense provided under KRS Chapter 218A.”
“No owner of residential, commercial or vacant property located in Louisville Metro shall allow his or her property to be used as the site for any public nuisance after having received notice pursuant to this chapter that the property has been used for the commission of a public nuisance,” the ordinance says. “A legal or equitable owner of such property is deemed to have knowledge of such activity upon receipt of the notice as set forth in this chapter.”
Dino’s Food Mart has been allowed to remain open while attorneys for the owners appeal an order to vacate from Metro Government.
The owners of Dino’s appeared before Codes and Regulations on July 24 to appeal the public nuisance notice, but their appeal was denied. Codes and Regulations then issued the gas station a final order, meaning the city would issue an order to vacate if the business received another notice.
Citing three public nuisance “qualifying events” that occurred at Dino’s since the appeal hearing, Codes and Regulations issued an order to vacate the premises “immediately” on Aug. 19 — along with a civil penalty of $400. Those “qualifying events” were two cases of fourth-degree assault, one on July 25 and the other on Aug. 8, and one case of possession of synthetic drugs on Aug. 8, according to the order to vacate notice.
City leaders and members of the Russell neighborhood community, including District 5 Metro Councilwoman Donna Purvis, have pushed to have the business shut down due to concerns about violent crime.
“You’re talking about over a thousand runs in less than two years, year and a half, from fire, police and EMS,” Purvis told WDRB News in August. “That’s a lot of wasted resources that can be utilized somewhere else, and that is in my opinion abuse of taxpayers dollars.”
“If you don’t have control of your own business, your own parking lot, your own establishment, then you are a problem. You are a nuisance to the neighbors,” added Sherry Jacob, who lives next door and whose yard borders Dino’s parking lot.
Jacob told WDRB News she would be OK with Dino’s staying if its hours were reduced. She said the crime is affecting more than just Dino’s customers – it’s impacting her feeling of safety in her home.
“If it stayed a 24-hour operation I would definitely like to see them close,” she added.
Dino’s Food Mart at 26th and West Broadway
Shunnarah, however, said a lot of people want the food mart to stay with its current hours.
“I can provide you a list of 500 people who will sign a petition claiming that they want Dino’s to stay open.” he added.
The gas station’s appeal lists Mayor Greg Fischer, Code Enforcement officer Jeremy Kirkham, the Louisville Metro Code Enforcement Board and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron as defendants. Fischer’s office, Codes and Regulations and Louisville Forward, an economic and community development organization within Metro Government, have not responded to WDRB News’ request for comment on the appeal.
Dino’s has been allowed to remain open during the appeals process. If the owners lose the appeal, they must pay the $400 fine, and the city will work out a timeline for the business to vacate.
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