Thursday, April 22, 2004

Library board sued over pick for Independence site

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDEPENDENCE - One day after choosing the site for a new branch here, the Kenton County Public Library Board of Trustees was sued for its decision.

Lawyer Eric Deters filed a taxpayers' lawsuit in Kenton Circuit Court on Wednesday, claiming the board's decision to build the $7 million branch on Walton-Nicholson Road south of Independence was "arbitrary and capricious" and will cause taxpayers to "suffer immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage."

Deters, who lives in southern Kenton County, has asked the court to halt the board from closing its purchase contract on a $700,000 piece of land owned by Karen and Lenny Collins.

Library director Wayne Onkst said Wednesday he could not comment on pending litigation.

The library is represented by the Crestview Hills law firm of Deters, Benzinger and LaVelle, where Deters' father, Charlie, is a founding member.

The Deters family also owns the Independence Town Center shopping center that Eric Deters and others, including some Independence city officials, favor as the new library site.

But Eric Deters said he filed the suit not as a member of the Deters family, but as a taxpayer who believes a better site exists in the center of Independence as opposed to south of the city.

Deters is challenging the library's site-selection process, saying it was done without "holding a public hearing for receiving public comment."

During Tuesday's library board meeting, trustees said the decision on building a new library was frequently discussed for nearly two years during public meetings.

In his suit, Deters is requesting documents and information used by the trustees to select the site including:

• Files from the library's Site Selection Committee.

• Correspondence between the library and the landowners.

• The appraisal of the Collins property.

• The library's plans for the existing Independence branch on Taylor Mill, which will close when the new branch opens late next year.

• A copy of all e-mails between trustees, library employees and others involved or related to the selection process.


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