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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow County: Suit is a 'publicity stunt'

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County: Suit is a 'publicity stunt'

Judge Eva Temple presided over a day-long hearing Wednesday regarding Shelter From the Storm and Union County.

SFS is seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the eviction of the nonprofit from its advocacy center on the Union County campus. On April 1, the county notified the shelter that they must evict the building by Sept. 1.

The eviction notice followed a unanimous March decision by the Union County Commissioners to site a new county courthouse on the footprint of the county-owned SFS building, which was completed for the nonprofit in 1998 with a Community Development Block Grant. The nonprofit filed suit, seeking injunctive relief in the matter.

In court Wednesday, the county argued that SFS doesn't qualify for relief under the statute for which they are seeking it. The Relocation Assistance Act, attorney Brent Smith told the court, applies only in cases where a property acquisition has taken place. He argued further that if the act did apply to this case, the county commissioners took steps to mitigate the harm due to the displacement of SFS.

In closing arguments, Smith said the lawsuit "is a publicity stunt" that has done more harm to the county's relationship with nonprofits than good.

George Galloway, who argued on behalf of SFS, said in closing arguments that this case illustrates a "huge disproportionality" in harm between the two parties that the county failed to rectify. Galloway said a preliminary injunction would not harm the county's courthouse project because a contractor agreement and plan is not due to the state until Oct. 1. County representatives also testified that groundbreaking on the new courthouse likely would not occur until late February 2015.

Temple, a visiting judge out of Hermiston, heard tesitmony from SFS Executive Director Teresa Crouser, county commissioners Bill Rosholt and Mark Davidson, county administrative officer Shelley Burgess and Judge Russ West. Temple said she had taken both the motion for an injunction and the defendant's motion to dismiss the case under advisement. She said she hopes to have a decision issued by Tuesday.

See more coverage of Wednesday's hearing in Friday's edition of The Observer. 

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