Ohio company sues Huntington over barge dock lease

By Drew Smith | Dec 15, 2005

HUNTINGTON – An Ohio company is suing the city of Huntington over an 11-year-old lease that authorized the company to construct a barge mooring facility along the Ohio River in Westmoreland.

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 18 in the Cabell Circuit Court, Huntington Marine Service Inc., based just across the river in Burlington, Ohio, claims the city has attempted to terminate the 20-year agreement since its approval by Huntington City Council in 1994.

The city, however, is demanding a minimum payment of $120,000, alleging Huntington Marine has neglected to fulfill the terms of the lease, which called for the company to pay the city $10,000 a year.

In the suit, Huntington Marine claims the city has not only sought to terminate the agreement, but has prevented development of the property.

As a result, Huntington Marine is seeking a 10-year extension of the lease, punitive and compensatory damages and prevention of the city from any further actions to terminate the lease.

Former Mayor Jean Dean, authorized by a City Council resolution, entered into a mooring agreement with Huntington Marine on April 11, 1994, for the purposes of fleeting, anchoring and tying barges to inspect, clean and repair them.

That same month, upon the advice of the city's director of planning, City Council adopted a second resolution that attempted to terminate the mooring agreement, citing complaints from local residents.

Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Dan O'Hanlon prevented the city from doing so and ruled the lease was valid and lawful.

According to the suit, city officials then attempted to rezone the property to prevent Huntington Marine Service from development.

Judge John L. Cummings also ruled in favor of Huntington Marine, claiming the city could not rezone the area.

The suit claims the company has attempted to obtain permits from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to utilize the property, but have been denied due to objections from the city.

Huntington Marine seeks compensatory damages, claiming the city "incurred significant economic damages" by objecting to the permits, thus preventing use.

The proposed mooring facility would be located on the left bank of the Ohio River near the mouth of Twelvepole Creek and extend a mile eastward.

The case has been assigned to Judge John L. Cummings.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 05-C-1010

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