A hearing in a civil case between the city of Hillsboro and the owners of the partially collapsed building at 119 West Main Street in uptown Hillsboro — as well as other “interested parties” — was held in Hillsboro Municipal Court Tuesday, July 9.

As previously reported, the city of Hillsboro has filed legal action against the owners of the building in uptown Hillsboro, which partially collapsed on Monday, June 3.

In a June 20 filing with Hillsboro Municipal Court, the city has filed action against property owners J. Steven Fettro, James W. Fettro and Joyce J. Fettro, as well as the Highland County Treasurer's Office, the Ohio Department of Taxation and the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation. According to court records, summonses were also issued to Helen Walton, who owns 117 West Main Street, and Tamara Istvan, who owns 115 West Main Street.

The city alleges that the 119 West Main Street property is a "public nuisance as defined in Ohio Revised Code 3767.41.

The city alleges "the building on the property is utterly deteriorated and cannot economically be repaired and that immediate action is needed to abate the public nuisance created thereby, as set forth in the attached affidavit of the city code enforcement officer (Anton Weissman)."

The city further alleges that the building is "a menace to the public health, welfare or safety; is structurally unsafe, unsanitary, and not provided with adequate safe egress; constitutes a fire hazard, is otherwise dangerous to human life, and is otherwise no longer fit and stable; and constitutes a hazard to the public health, welfare or safety by reason of inadequate maintenance, dilapidation, obsolescence or abandonment."

The defendants have 28 days from the filing to respond. 

Hillsboro law director Fred Beery explained to Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna that, as reported by safety and service director Mel McKenzie during the Monday, July 8 Hillsboro city council meeting, McKenzie’s discussions are “on hold” until July 15 when the insurance claims adjuster he has been speaking with returns from vacation.

“From my understanding, they are interested in taking care of the liability in the demo process,” McKenzie told council Monday. 

McKenzie also told council that the litigation was filed “to make me the temporary receiver to abate the nuisance so that I could go in and take care of anything and the liability would be off the city.”

McKenna said he would continue the case until July 23 at 10 a.m., at which point he will “get another report from the emergency receiver, Mr. McKenzie.”

After Beery met with Judge McKenna, representatives from the Fettro family asked to approach for clarification.

“It was reported to city council last night that the insurance company is willing to pay for the cleanup, not any reconstruction,” McKenna told the Fettros. “Evidentially, there’s a breakdown in communication between your attorney and the insurance company and the city law director.

“I’m continuing this matter two weeks, which will be past the 28 days you have to file a response with the court, and then we’ll see what the insurance companies are going to do then.”

David Osborne, Jr., then asked to approach the judge to speak on behalf of the Southern Ohio Historic Preservation Investment Group, LLC. McKenna referred Osborne to speak with Beery regarding the case. The investment group has purchased a group of buildings on West Main Street formerly owned by Jack Hope.