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Judge dismisses all claims, defendants in Trussville incentives lawsuit

By Gary Lloyd

TRUSSVILLE — Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Jim Hughey on Thursday ruled to dismiss all claims and all defendants in a lawsuit over incentives to bring businesses to downtown Trussville.

In October 2013, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Anytime Fitness owner Rick Plourde and Trussville resident George Glenn, alleging that the Trussville City Council and Downtown Redevelopment Authority “acted in violation of applicable law” in regards to the former Food World building on Main Street. The lawsuit states the individuals or administrative bodies may have acted “arbitrarily, capriciously, negligently or carelessly in the development of or approval for the subject property.”

Fresh Value Marketplace in Trussville
file photo by Gary Lloyd

Attorneys for the two bodies then asked a Jefferson County judge to dismiss the two entities as defendants from the lawsuit filed over incentives used to bring two new businesses — Fresh Value Marketplace and 24e Fitness — to the former vacant Food World building.

In a filing on behalf of the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, attorneys argued that the claims made in the lawsuit were settled in 2011 when a court ruling allowed the city of Trussville to purchase the Village in Trussville shopping center. The attorneys further argued that Downtown Redevelopment Authority members are protected from civil liability by state law because they serve as volunteers.

The filing states that the authority has “the power and discretion to purchase and/or to lease” the property.

The plaintiffs’ complaint was that the Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Trussville City Council and Mayor Gene Melton “acted outside their power, improperly, not in the best interests of the community and in a manner that fails to promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the public.”

24e Fitness
file photo by Gary Lloyd

In August 2013, the Trussville City Council approved $800,000 in tax abatements over a four-year period for Fresh Value Marketplace and $912,000 to remodel the building to split it for the two occupants.

The city of Trussville spent about $22,000 per month for rent on the building since leasing it in October 2011. The city spent $250,000 to end a 15-year lease with America’s Thrift Store, which had planned to open a store there. Food World closed in September 2010.

Fresh Value Marketplace opened in December and 24e Fitness opened in March.

Contact Gary Lloyd at news@trussvilletribune.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.

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