By Lauren Adams | WLKY

Fighting to keep their homes for more than a year, some Southern Indiana residents are encouraged after a judge ruled in their favor Monday. What is being done in Charlestown’s Pleasant Ridge neighborhood, according to Indiana Judge Jason Mount, is likely unconstitutional.

John Neace

Citing nearly $10,000 in fines, the homeowners’ association claimed they were being fined way too often and too much, while the developer was being left alone. On Monday, Judge Mount ruled the city gave “a free pass” to Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment LLC, controlled by John Neace.

Homeowner Melissa Crawford told WLKY she was “giddy” over the judge’s ruling.

“It’s like the greatest Christmas present ever. I think I might decorate for Christmas now,” Crawford said of learning she would be spending the holidays at her home.

She was one of dozens of homeowners in Pleasant Ridge who sued the city this year, asserting fines were illegal and excessive.

After reviewing the lawsuit, Judge Mount granted a preliminary injunction.

Indiana Judge Jason Mount | Courtesy WLKY

At Monday’s regularly scheduled city council meeting, some residents argued the homes purchased by Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment were not safe.

Council member Tina Barnes pleaded with her colleagues to send a letter instructing the developer to tear down those homes in her neighborhood.

“I can’t even get the council to make a motion on it, let alone send a letter, and the mayor keeps saying it will be different in a year. No, these houses need to come down now,” Barnes said.

Josh Craven, president of the homeowners’ association, said he would continue to fight the city and the developer.

“The ones they deemed unsafe they can tear them down at this point. The ones that aren’t unsafe you can’t eminent domain an unsafe house,” Craven said.

“The $10,000 the developer is offering for my home isn’t going to do nothing when your home is paid off. I can’t go anywhere for that,” Melissa Crawford said, adding she too would continue to fight.

For now, homeowners will be able to stay put, but many renters have been told they will have to move out by Dec. 31.

Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall said he was working to put a plan in place and make resources available, so that no one is without a place to live.

The city of Charlestown issued a statement reading in part: “Since there is a difference of opinion on other legal issues addressed in the court order, including the collection and waiver of fines…the city’s legal team is assessing its options, to ensure that the city’s right to govern and foster the safety of its citizens is protected.”

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