US Dist Ct, W.D. KY, Louisville Div., No. 3:10-CV-539-H, Jan. 12, 2011: Holds a suit to allow demolition of landmark buildings may proceed because owner either (1) properly appealed the denial of its demolition request under County ordinance or (2) was not required to exhaust administrative remedies. Denies the County’s motion to dismiss. “At some point a plaintiff cannot be held to exhaust administrative remedies when there is no response to their claim.” Rather than remand to state court, the US District Court will resolve the state law and federal due process issues.
In this historic preservation matter, “The lawsuit [by Iron Quarter, LLC, property owner] appealed the denial of its administrative requests, asserted promissory estoppel, and denial of equal protection and due process under the United States and Kentucky Constitutions…. [Iron Quarter] moved to dismiss on the grounds that [the District Court] lacks jurisdiction because Iron Quarter has not exhausted its administrative appeals process.” Iron Quarter filed demolition requests with the County but as described by the Court, the County’s responses were sufficiently confusing that it “either failed to answer …[the] request or never clearly or formally responded at all.”
The landmark buildings in question are in “an area known as Whiskey Row, or the Iron Quarter … in downtown Louisville. The buildings along this block were designed and constructed between 1857 and 1905, and together represent some of Louisville’s finest examples of Renaissance Revival, Beaux Arts, and Chicago-style architecture.” The County Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission designated each building a local landmark. The buildings are also designated within the Waterfront Review Overlay District.