LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An attorney for the city of Charlestown's Pleasant Ridge neighborhood said a judge has issued an injunction saying the city can no longer force residents out of their homes.

Pleasant Ridge neighbors have been fighting the city's efforts to demolish homes there to make way for new development. Jeffrey Redfern, with the non-profit Institute for Justice, pleaded his case at a hearing in September. He argued the city was violating state law and Charlestown's own ordinances that require property owners with code violations to be given a grace period.

He also said the city refused to forgive the fines for landowners, while waiving them for the developer.

"The developer got to buy all these houses while people were still living in them, and do nothing ... even though they had admitted violations," Redfern said. "And if you just add up the fines the way the city was doing it against our clients, supposedly, the developers should owe the city millions of dollars."

Redfern and Pleasant Ridge residents had claimed the city was imposing unreasonably hefty fines, in some cases thousands of dollars, for minor violations as a way to force them to sell and move out.

"Our client was fined about $9,000," Redfern said. "That's for one property. The developer was only offering $10,000 to buy these properties."

Redfern said it could take a year before a final ruling, but he said he's optimistic the court will rule in the homeowners' favor. Until then, he said property owners can rest assured they won't be forced out with the threat of hefty fines without first being given a reasonable chance to fix violations.

"It doesn't mean they can willfully disregard an order to repair their house," he said. "That might be a different issue. But, certainly, it means that they're not going to be getting fined."

Charlestown City Attorney Mike Gillenwater released a statement Monday. It reads, in part:

"We appreciate the fact that the Special Judge affirmed the City's right to enforce health and safety code provisions of the City's Property Maintenance Code. He also affirmed that the City can inspect, impose fines and collect those fines as part of the proper function of City government."

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