SOUTHERN INDIANA (WHAS11) -- New documents released by a private developer detail collusion between Charlestown city leaders and the Pleasant Ridge private developer, according to attorneys.
The attorneys, who work with the Institute for Justice, claim it was a secret plan to get the neighbors out of their home. They said there are emails, notes and text messages detailing the entire thing.
"This is one of the most egregious situations we have ever seen,” attorney Jeffrey Redfern said.
Redfern is one of several attorneys in Southern Indiana this week, preparing for a hearing in court Friday morning. He said they represented people in similar situations before but none with so much evidence proving their suspicion.
He said, “I don't think any of us expected to see documents that laid it out this clearly. Most often when you're looking at an agreement like this, a conspiracies like this you have to make a lot of inferences, if you're lucky you may get one smoking gun, but here there are absolutely convincing documents all over the place."
The attorneys said they received the documents several weeks ago. Now they are using them to fight a case in court against the city.
"At the bottom what this case is about, is undesirable people. The city thinks that this land is really valuable, they think that the new bridge is going to bring a lot of growth and frankly they think that the poor people that live in this neighborhood, and most of them are fairly poor, and are just not good enough for this land,” Redfern said.
The private developer, John Neace, released the documents, which detail conversations between his company and the city.
It started with the city inspector.
"In most cities, if a housing inspector comes by and says hey there's something wrong, they issue a fix it citation, saying you have this many day to cut your grass or fix your window or whatever, in this case, they were issues thousands of dollars of fines with no notice, no time to correct, and then they told these people that they wouldn't have to pay those fines if they sold their properties to this private developer,” Redfern said.
It then details how they would deal with the homes that refused to sell. On one note under "plan" it says "board up homes will lower values."
"The idea was that if the developer can acquire a whole bunch of these homes, board them up and make the neighborhood look terrible, it’s going to drive down housing prices and then the city won’t have to pay as much when it eventually uses eminent domain,” Redfern said.
The attorneys said Mayor Bob Hall claimed using eminent domain was a last resort, but that according to the documents it was always part of the plan.
Now those attorneys are working around the clock ahead of a Friday morning, where they're taking their case in front of a judge.
Neither Mayor Bob Hall or the city attorney could be reached for comment.