CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A legal battle over a Southern Indiana neighborhood is heating up after residents say the city is trying to force them from their homes.
After years of feeling like targets of the City of Charlestown, people living in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood are filing suit against a city for what they are calling predatory eminent domain practices.
"The city of Charlestown is abusing code enforcement to drive its most vulnerable citizens from its homes to try and force them to sell to a private developer for redevelopment,” said Jeff Rose of the Institute for Justice.
The Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association alone faces nearly $9,000 worth of fines on a duplex which it rents out.
Unfortunately, this isn't a new problem for people in Pleasant Ridge.
We first told you about this story in 2014, when the city first started citing people for code violations.
David and Ellen Keith have lived in Charlestown since 1968, and it seems everywhere they look there are signs of progress.
"Charlestown is a very pleasant place to live,” said David Keith.
"Everybody here looks out for each other,” said Ellen Keith.
However, for the last two and a half years people who live in the Pleasant Ridge subdivision no longer feel welcome in their own homes after the city of Charlestown started fining them hundreds of dollars for everything from torn window screens to broken gutters.
"I don't feel welcome,” said David Keith. “It's a problem for me and my wife. She didn't realize that it was them against us."
"We've been fighting to try and keep our homes,” said Ellen Keith. “A lot of the landlord here have sold. We've seen people move out that really have no place to go."
Of the 350 homes in Pleasant Ridge nearly 150 have been sold to a private developer who the city isn't requiring to pay outstanding fines which have forced most homeowners to sell.
The Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association hopes a lawsuit against the city will put an end to this tactic.
"We will fight this to the end,” said Josh Craven. “I feel very sad for the people that live in those homes, and are at risk of being kicked out in the next 30 to 60 days."
As for Ellen and David Keith they simply hope they can grow old in the house their family has always called home.
"I wanted to be here until I died,” said David Keith. “I retired in 1996, and I wanted to have a happy retirement."
"It would be devastating,” said Ellen Keith. “It would really be devastating. We love our neighborhood, and we love the people of our neighborhood. I can't imagine living anyplace else."
WHAS11 tried to reach out to Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall today, but we haven't heard back from him at this point.
The city now has 10 days to respond to the lawsuit filed today, so we should have an update in the coming weeks.