By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
— The dispute between the owners of the tornado-damaged Home Field Sports Grill in Fultondale and the city has now gone to the courts.
Owner John Douglas and CNL Properties, LLC have filed a lawsuit against the City of Fultondale in Jefferson Circuit Court, which requests the court issue an injunction preventing the city from demolishing its property. It also asks the court to force city building officials to declare the restaurant, located on U.S. 31 near Walkers Chapel Road, as a "prior non-conforming property" that is not subject to zoning regulations enacted after the building was constructed in 1954.
Douglas and the city have been embroiled in a dispute over several issues surrounding the grill, which was heavily damaged by the April 2011 tornado. The city has ruled that the building was damaged more than 50 percent, and therefore will have to be rebuilt according to current zoning regulations. Douglas says it's less than 50 percent, and is therefore still grandfathered under old regulations.
The lawsuit also seeks unspecified damages for devaluation of the property and lost business revenues, among other things.
Douglas has carried on a public battle,including a popular Facebook page, with the city and Mayor Jim Lowery in the effort to rebuild the restaurant. Douglas has claimed that Lowery is trying to force him out of the location so that the city, through a non-profit development corporation, can acquire the property at a low price.
Lawsuit filings present only one side of the dispute, by their nature, and the city has not yet filed a response to the suit, which was filed electronically on Sunday morning by attorneys from the Bradley Arant law firm. However, Lowery and members of the Fultondale City Council have publicly said that they have no desire to keep Home Field from reopening.