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Mabrys file second answer to city complaint

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The couple operating a restaurant on Vandalia Lake has filed its second answer to a city complaint aimed at shutting them down.
David Cates, the attorney for Steve and Latisha Mabry, filed in Fayette County Circuit Court last Friday a response to the complaint filed by the city at the end of June.
In its complaint, the city contends that in a 1988 ordinance, a Highland couple agreed to subject the property now owned by the Mabrys to residential zoning. In exchange, the city allowed James and Ann Hediger to have a boat dock at that location.
In the answer filed last Friday, the Mabrys’ admit that there is such an ordinance, but “deny that the ordinance is valid … that the ordinance was validly enacted … (and) that the ordinance subjects the lot to zoning restrictions.”
The Mabrys’ attorney filed with the answer a list of affirmative defenses:
1. Plaintiff has acted with unclean hands.
2. The doctrine of laches applies which bars plaintiffs complaint for declaratory judgment.
3. Plaintiff lacks jurisdiction over the lot in question as it is outside the city limits.
4. Plaintiff lacks the authority to enact the ordinance in question under both state law and municipal ordinance authority.
5. The ordinance was not validly enacted.
6. The ordinance does not apply to the property in question.
7. The ordinance does not constitute a contract.
8. The ordinance is expired.
At a hearing in September, Cates argued on behalf of the Mabrys that the city has no control over their property because its outside Vandalia’s corporate limits.
Early in October, Judge James R. Roberts of Hillsboro denied the motion to dismiss the couple’s complaint based on that argument.