Portsmouth Mayor Discusses Dismantling Local Business and Giving it to Charity
The issue of bench advertising was, seemingly, settled 8 months ago. However, the Portsmouth Mayor surprised many by bringing up the issue again. This time, he is promoting dismantling the business entirely and giving it to charity.
Mayor Dunne said in a television interview, “You know, one of the things I thought we could do is, um, similar to an Adopt a Park program, uh, where a nonprofit, a church, or some other organization could adopt a space to maintain it, uh, and then, uh, provide a space for advertising and they would then be able to collect the revenue for it.”
Can the government seize a legal and compliant business with the intent to turn that business operation over to any entity? The first question is when a government can seize a business. If the business is a “blue” business like an adult massage parlor that clearly violates the laws of the state or violates a city ordinance, the city does have legal remedies. In addition, if the business is determined to be a nuisance property (where drugs, crime, and prostitution run rampant), the local government also has a legal remedy.
However, this private family-owned company that has operated for nearly 50 years is neither a “blue” business nor does it meet the criteria for a nuisance enterprise.
To draw a comparison, let’s look at our dear friends who own the Jim Dandy restaurant in Portsmouth. It has been in business for over half a century and is not in violation of any laws or ordinances on the books. Isn’t it absurd to think the Mayor would decide he didn’t like the sandwiches and publicly announces it would be better to seize the business and hand it off to a church or non-profit to maintain and collect revenues?
The discussion then caught on amongst the other council members. 6th Ward Councilperson Packard voiced concerns about the benches in his ward. However, those benches are not on city property. The city may cut the grass, but the property is owned by the state of Ohio.
Listed below are 3 bench locations the city is complaining about, yet they are not located on city property.
City officials claim that these benches contribute to panhandling. However, laws are already on the books to enforce panhandling, loitering, and even possessing a grocery cart. There has been a suggestion that the city should enforce the current laws and stop attacking a local small business.
The attorneys consulted, in this case, all agreed that the city cannot impose restrictions on any part of the business that isn’t located on city property. Should the city decide to move forward with this bizarre attack on a private company, SCDN has been told to expect litigation.
This issue is larger than 1 business. If they prevail here, they could attempt to shut down any business or service for any reason. This needs to be closely monitored by all small business owners.