Hobson lawsuit thrown out

Published 9:27 pm Monday, January 31, 2011

The Masonic Lodge in Hobson was one of several structures named in a lawsuit that attempted to halt the scheduled demolition of the buildings.

A federal judge dismissed a civil lawsuit that sought to prevent the demolition of several homes and buildings in the Hobson village.

A group of property owners filed the suit against the city and the Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, saying that the scheduled demolitions were “discriminatory” and that the plaintiffs were denied federal funding for “renovation or preservation” of their property.

Mary Hill, Marie Hill, Richard Townsend Jr., Horace Chapman, Maxie Brinkley and Perry King are listed as plaintiffs on the suit, filed Aug. 30 in U.S. District Court.

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Senior U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Friedman said the plaintiffs “have not alleged facts supporting a plausible claim of intentional discrimination.”

According to Suffolk’s online assessment records, Mary Hill owns three of the properties — the Masonic Lodge at the corner of Macedonia Avenue and Crittenden Road, as well as the properties at 1765 and 1769 Sawmill Point Road. The other properties are located at 1705 Macedonia Ave. and at 8324, 8337 and 8345 Hudgins Circle.

The lawsuit also asked for an investigation into how certain federal funds were spent, but the judge wrote that the court does not have the authority to order an investigation.

“In fact, Plaintiffs’ suit seems to be premised at least in part on the mistaken notion that a property’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places automatically protects a building from demolition and/or entitles it to aid for preservation,” the dismissal order reads. “It does not.”

The homeowners missed a deadline to file a notice of appeal and instead filed a motion for a 120-day extension to “acquire adequate professional legal counsel” to assist with an appeal. The request was denied.

“A notice of appeal is a very simple document that Plaintiffs could have easily filed without the assistance of counsel,” the judge wrote.