Church trustees sue Huntington over municipal land use regulations

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 27, 2013

HUNTINGTON - Three church trustees of Apostolic Life Cathedral are suing the City of Huntington after they claim its municipal land use regulations will cause irreparable harm if they are forced to destroy a structure on their land instead of rehabilitating it.

The Unsafe Buildings Commission for the City of Huntington was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Larry Gay, James Mays and Bernard Cremeans acquired title to certain real estate in Huntington on June 13, 2003, and made extensive plans for rehabilitating the structure on the property so that it could be used for charitable purposes, according to a complaint filed March 20 in Cabell Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs claim due to municipal land use regulations, the destruction of the structure would preclude rebuilding on the site and it is imperative that the church be permitted to extensively renovate the existing structure on the lot.

At this time, the plaintiffs are unaware of any conditions which make the property an actual threat to the safety and well-being of the community, such that they could not immediately begin efforts to rehabilitate the property, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim the razing of the structure on the property will irreparably harm them in that they will not be able to use the property for its intended purposes and will render its plans for renovation moot, as well as rendering the property incapable of usage by the Church in carrying out its legitimate and benevolent operations.

Because of the defendants' threatened imminent scheduling for razing the structure on the property, "the plaintiffs require immediate injunctive relief from the court, protecting it from suffering irreparable harm," according to the suit.

The plaintiffs are seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief under West Virginia Code prohibiting, restraining and preventing the defendants from proceeding to the demolition of the structure; that the court advance this matter for hearing at the earliest possible opportunity; and that it consolidate findings and proceedings at such hearing with its determination on the merits of the claims asserted in this complaint. They are being represented by Paul A. Ryker.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-187

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