Huntington residency requirement challenged

By John O'Brien | Dec 22, 2006

HUNTINGTON - A Huntington policeman says the city's rule that certain city employees must live within city limits is unfair and is challenging it in Cabell Circuit Court.

Joshua Coffey filed his petition for injunctive relief Dec. 13 on behalf of himself and others similarly situated against the City of Huntington and Mayor David Felinton.

Gregory Howard of Barboursville law firm Bailey and Howard is representing Coffey.

Employees who were hired after July 1, 2002, were recently required to sign an affidavit stating they live within the city limits.

"Only within the last few weeks has there been an attempt to enforce the residency requirement by Defendant Mayor David Felinton due to the pressure from the Huntington City Council and that city employees who have relied on and witnessed the non-enforcement of the residency requirement should not now be the collateral damage of a political battle between Huntington City Council and Mayor David Fellinton," the complaint says.

It adds that the defendants previously failed to strictly enforce the residency requirement "and have generally fostered an environment whereby city employees have relied on the fact that the defendants had no intention of enforcing the residency requirement."

The current law began in 1985 and was challenged successfully in 1993. Cabell Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon enjoined the City from enforcing any residency requirement on Sept. 29, 1994.

Another ordinance was passed in 2002, though, outlining a new residency requirement.

Felinton recently ordered 119 city employees to submit a proof a residency.

"Defendant Felinton's actions to attempt to hurriedly collect residency information on employees who have been hired for as long as four years reveals he environment that he has fostered wherein the residency requirement was not strictly enforced," the complaint says.

It adds that "the defendants are not in a position to strictly enforce the residency requirement without exception and in fact have no enforced the residency requirement without exception."

Judge John Cummings has been assigned the case.

Cabell Circuit Court case number 06-C-949

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