City Hall

Man Who Repaired Rundown Fair Park Home Bought From City Sues to Halt Its Demolition

The majority of neighborhoods surrounding Fair Park are riddled with vacant, boarded-up homes and empty lots. Atlanta Street is no exception.

Across from the Park South Family YMCA, Todd Russell bought a 672-square-foot house in June 2009 from the city to save it from demolition. But less than a month later, the city sued Russell in order to proceed with razing the 86-year-old structure.

Now he's filed a lawsuit of his own to prevent the city from tearing down the restored dwelling. According to the complaint filed on Wednesday, Russell cut tree branches, removed 75 feet of honey comb embedded into the side of the structure, replaced windows, gutted the interior, tore down a storage shed, erected fence poles, repaired the porch, painted the house, and installed new shingles, a new water and sewer system and an aluminum skirt around its base.

Russell, who's representing himself and is identified as a full-time college student in the suit, alleges judicial misconduct by Administrative Judge Victor Lander for ordering the demolition as "a personal vendetta" and perjury by code inspector Henry Trevino, along with claiming his Fourth Amendment right protecting him against an unlawful seizure has been violated.

He says Lander and the city ignored the renovations and ordered the demolition based on the property being vacant and remaining in the same condition.

Russell is also seeking compensatory damages.

We called Mary Supino, who's the assistant city attorney named in the suit as prosecuting the case, but she left the City Attorney's Office to become the city secretary in Arlington. Instead, we spoke with First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers, who says he's "99 percent sure" that the city hasn't been served yet. However, Bowers said the city will inspect the property before it proceeds with demolition.

We're waiting to hear back from Russell, although his concerns are well-documented in his petition, which you can find after the jump.

Russell v City

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Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten