Charlestown neighbors fighting to save homes from developer - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Charlestown neighbors fighting to save homes from developer

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Neighbors in a small Charlestown, Indiana, community landed some big city backing in an effort to save their homes.

After 47 years on Halcyon Street in Charlestown, 74-year-old Arretta Griffen lets all who knock know she's ready to do battle. 

"My home is important to me because it is full of my life's memories," Griffen said. "I got 'No Trespassing' signs up and boxing gloves on my door."

"If they come to bulldoze it, I'm sitting on that front porch," she added. "They can take me right over to the graveyard and drop me in cause I'm not leaving my home."

The senior and her neighbors from the Pleasant Ridge subdivision tried to give a gut punch to the city Friday when the Institute for Justice, a non-profit D.C. legal team, filed a injunction in Clark County Circuit Court.

"The Institute for Justice has come here to Charlestown to defend the residents of Pleasant Ridge from what is probably the most outrageous abuse of property rights in the United States," said Jeff Rowes, senior attorney for the Institute of Justice.

The institute's legal move aims to block a new effort by the city to inspect old properties deemed at risk. 

It left property owners racking up thousands of dollars in fines. 

"The city of Charlestown is abusing code enforcement to drive its most vulnerable residents from their homes and to force them to sell to a developer for private redevelopment," Rowes said.

The other side of the debate can be seen on the other side of the street, with boarded-up windows, run-down houses and trash piled on lot after lot. 

Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall did not return calls Friday, but in the past has made clear the intention to tear down this neighborhood.

"We got high crime," he said in July 2016. "We have a lot of drugs with it. It is the drug corridor of Charlestown."  

At the end of the day, Mayor Hall said, someone has to write a check to get it done, and the city doesn't have the money. 

A private developer is buying out homes at $10,000 each.

"You can't even by a toilet for $10,000," Griffen said.

About 150 of 350 properties have been sold, but they were owned by mostly landlords -- not homeowners like Griffen.

The developer wants to build a more affordable Norton Commons in Charlestown with homes priced around $250,000. 

Griffen and her neighbors are not buying in, and not backing down. 

"My husband passed away," Griffen said. "We'd been married 56 years, and every nail put in this house, he'd done it. So I'm not leaving."

There is no decision and no court date yet for a hearing on the injunction.

Charlestown city attorney Michael Gillenwater released a statement late Friday afternoon:

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