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Appeals court withdraws ruling on taking of Gary restaurant by housing authority
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Appeals court withdraws ruling on taking of Gary restaurant by housing authority

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Nations Restaurant

The Indiana Court of Appeals took the unusual step Thursday of withdrawing its Nov. 10 decision that held the Gary Housing Authority failed to follow statutory requirements when it acquired through condemnation a since-demolished restaurant building at 624 Broadway. The court said a new ruling will be issued "in due course."

The Indiana Court of Appeals has taken the rare step of rescinding its Nov. 10 ruling that held the Gary Housing Authority failed to follow statutory requirements when it acquired through condemnation a since-demolished restaurant building at 624 Broadway.

In an order issued Thursday, Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Cale Bradford said the original decision is withdrawn and vacated, must be removed from the court's website, and a substitute opinion will be issued "in due course."

The order indicates the three appellate jurists who heard the case — Judge Paul Mathias, Judge Elizabeth Tavitas and Judge Leanna Weissmann — concurred with the decision to withdraw the ruling.

At the same time, the order does not specify why the ruling has been withdrawn.

It's unusual for the appeals court to disown a decision on its own initiative. Typically, the court only will consider the possibility that it erred after a litigant files a petition for rehearing identifying a potential legal mistake.

In this case, the order to withdraw the ruling came three days after an article in The Times suggested the appeals court may have mistakenly applied the 2021 version of the eminent domain statute, instead of the statute in effect when the case commenced in 2019.

The distinction matters because the appeals court said the housing authority was required by Indiana law to mail notice of the proposed acquisition to the property owner, and twice publish notice in a local newspaper, at least 30 days prior to the public meeting where the authority intended to take the property.

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However, the statute in effect at the time of the taking did not mandate mailed notices to the property owner and required only 10 days between newspaper publication and public hearings.

Records show former property owner John Allen was in the midst of renovating the building into the Nations Restaurant and Bar when the property was acquired by the Gary Housing Authority.

The housing authority last year tore down the building, as well as the other structures in the 600 block of Broadway, as a prelude to constructing a new, mixed-use housing development on the block.

The Jingle Johns! Watch several years of Service Sanitation's Christmas porta potty light and music shows

Since 2013, Gary's Service Sanitation has been celebrating the holiday season with its Jingle John shows in which festively lit porta potties sing Christmas carols. The one-of-a-kind holiday light show has performed at the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and many holiday parades around Northwest Indiana and greater Chicagoland, drawing media coverage from across the country. 

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The Jingle Johns sing "Hallelujah."

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