Today, the Charlestown City Council started the process of rescinding the Indiana state Unsafe Building Law. The vote comes just two days after an Indiana Appeals Court ruled that the city had violated the state Unsafe Building Law when it levied outrageous fines against homeowners in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood. In response to today’s vote, Anthony Sanders, a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, which represents Pleasant Ridge homeowners, issued the following statement:
Charlestown’s fines in Pleasant Ridge were all illegal because they violated the Unsafe Building Law’s protections for property owners. In response, the city has started the process to repeal the law to ensure that the protections the city illegally ignored in the past won’t apply in the future. It is a bad sign for the people of Charlestown that the city council keeps passing ordinances removing protections for their property.
In 2017, an Indiana judge ruled that the city had violated its residents’ constitutional rights when it imposed outrageous fines against property owners in Pleasant Ridge, but waived the fines for anyone who sold to the city’s favored developer, John Neace. Making technical changes to a city ordinance does nothing to address the underlying unconstitutionality of the city’s actions. If the city seeks to obey the law, then its only option is to end its all-out assault on the residents of Pleasant Ridge.