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Owners sue to halt demolition of motel



Published: Sat, February 22, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The building's owners have a meeting about the state funding in mid-March.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Owners of the former Imperial Motel are asking a judge to halt the city's order to demolish the building to give them time to seek funding for the work.

Siblings Albert and Donald Guarnieri and Lucille McGuire filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court through Atty. William Paul McGuire. The attorney is a son of Lucille McGuire and a nephew of the Guarnieris.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Board of Building Appeals upheld an order by Christopher A. Taneyhill, the city's interim building official, to demolish the building by Saturday.

Taneyhill said that unless instructed otherwise, he plans to meet with the law department to pursue charges against the property owners if the building isn't demolished by Saturday.

The building was abandoned years ago and has sat in a state of disrepair since.

Mayor Hank Angelo couldn't be reached.

Members of the Guarnieri family acknowledged earlier this month that the building needed to be torn down but said they wanted time to apply for money through the city for a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund.

Because the building contains asbestos, the demolition cost ranges from $97,000 to $120,000.

At the hearing earlier this month, Angelo said he's willing to work with the property owners, but he wanted a firm date for the building's demolition regardless of whether the state money comes through.

What's in suit

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, McGuire argues that the state board's decision is unreasonable because the board didn't give the motel's owners enough time to apply for money from the state. The owners are to meet with administrators of the Clean Ohio Fund in mid-March.

The lawsuit also asks that if the city isn't willing to aid the owners in the Clean Ohio Fund application, they be given the opportunity to seek help from Trumbull County.

Private property owners aren't eligible for the funds.

It also contends that city ordinances require that when a notice for demolition is issued that specified repairs and improvements be outlined, but the notice didn't include that information.

According to city officials, the motel is a safety hazard because its fire alarm system is disconnected and entryways and staircases aren't structurally sound.

Officials have said that vagrants have been living in the building and that if a fire broke out, the structural weaknesses could present dangers to police officers and firefighters.

dick@vindy.com




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