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When you're the boss, you sometimes have to get tough when people don't cooperate. But one Louisville agency would rather look the other way than fight violators.
And Fox 41's Dick Irby's investigation led to a fight involving one of our cameras.
Businessman Michael Gordon is one of the violators the Department of Planning has avoided a confrontation with.
Last year, Michael Gordon sought permission to open a car lot and art gallery at the old Dillon's Steakhouse property.
To obtain approval, Gordon agreed at a hearing to a long-standing requirement that the Funk House -- a 213-year-old house on the property and one of the oldest homes in Jefferson County -- be preserved and protected.
In May, Richard Jett, the county's historic preservation expert, was shocked to learn Michael Gordon had covered 1795-era brick with a fake field stone. He said then, "I've never seen, short of an actual demolition, an historic building of that age, that importance, treated in this way." In addition, original windows were removed and the historic interior gutted.
Planning Director Charles Cash says of Gordon, "He has a notice of violation. He has a letter stating what remedial action would need to be taken."
Michael Gordon was sent a violation notice in April. But Gordon took no steps to stop work and reverse the destruction. After waiting six more months and allowing destruction to continue, the city finally filed a citation last month.
Strangely, Charles Cash actually defends Gordon's right to gut the interior, apparently believing the county's binding elements are worthless. He says those elements, "Wouldn't be regulated if it was in a landmarks district. If you decided you wanted to remove your historic mantel and all your trim, you could do that."
That would be true except, in this case, in the Funk House, there were special restrictions placed on that house to begin with. Those restrictions required any changes to the house be submitted to the Landmarks Commission before any work was done.
Video from last week shows two ancient hitching posts are the only signs left of the home's historic past. Even though Fox 41's Dick Irby and photographer Dave White were not on his property, Gordon appeared to insist that White stop shooting video.
When they declined, Gordon attacked in a determined attempt to throw a $50,000 camera to the ground. Gordon demanded to know, "You filming me? What do you keep pushing me for?"
When Irby told him, "Because you need to back off," Gordon replied, "I don't need to back off. See you guys."
Richard Jett says, "If, in fact, he had talked to us, we would not have approved any of that."
And Charles Cash says, "So, eventually, there'll be a binding element violation hearing in front of the Planning Commission."
But shen Dick Irby pointed out, "It seems as though, when you see this and Mr. Jett is horrified and saddened by this -- "
Cash interrupted, saying "Mr. Jett works for me.."
Irby continued: "I know but it...he's your expert on this, and it seems as though you all would be taking action."
You could call a citation against Michael Gordon proof of the Planning Division's reluctance to penalize violators. It says Gordon has violated a binding element and should either send in a $4,000 check or contest the citation.
The real fine Gordon faces is $500 to $4,000 a day for each day he is in violation. Planning apparently doesn't write enough citations to get it right when it does issue one.