Seven Clinton residents, including a candidate for mayor, have filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Clinton on behalf of themselves and all landowners in Mill Creek Crossing First Addition.

Petitioners include Edward and Diane O’Neill of 924 Alanah Lane, Jack Eads of 1717 Connor Court, Gerald and Cheryle Vilmont of 1633 Mill Creek and Timothy and Valerie Arvola of 1725 Connor Court. O’Neill, a former city councilman, recently declared that he is a candidate in the November election for mayor.

The group is protesting Clinton City Council action taken May 24 in which the council approved the adoption of an ordinance that amends the Clinton Citywide Urban Revitalization Program.

The council’s action removed all of the subdivision from eligibility in that program, stating that the tax abatement may adversely affect the financial stability of tax increment financing that has been used in the subdivision. An amendment to the ordinance reads that all properties located within Mill Creek Crossing First Addition have been determined to be not eligible for tax abatement under the citywide Urban Revitalization Program until after the tax increment financing with the developer is complete.

The ineligibility is the result of the need to protect the financial stability of the Towne & Country Manor Development Corporation Development Agreement, the document states. Upon completion of the tax increment financing any new housing construction, additions to existing houses or other qualifying construction may be considered for the tax abatement program, according to the ordinance.

Under the revitalization program, improvements consisting of rehabilitation or additions to existing buildings must have increased the actual value of the building by at least 15 percent if the property is assessed as commercial or industrial or by at least 10 percent if the property is classified as residential.

The petitioners claim they purchased their properties with the expectation and belief that they would receive property tax relief as provided by the ordinance.

“The actions of the city of Clinton, in amending the ordinance, will deny any tax relief to the residential property owners in the subdivision and subject them to increased real estate taxes effective immediately,” the lawsuit states.

“The city of Clinton acted illegally, unreasonably, arbitrarily, capriciously, discriminatorily and unlawfully in adopting the amendment removing the eligibility for tax relief for property owners in Mill Creek Crossing First Addition.”

The petitioners are seeking that their request be reviewed in Clinton County District Court, that all actions and documentations of the city council be forwarded to the court, that it go to trial, and ultimately lead to a ruling that the May 24 amendment is void and unenforceable.

They also are seeking further relief as the court deems proper, a temporary and permanent injunction and that a temporary restraining order be put in place until the case has been heard and determined by the court.

The petitioners are represented by Clinton attorney Wylie Pillers. 

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