Suit against Fortville councilman ends with mixed verdict


FORTVILLE — A Hancock County court has ruled that a Fortville town councilman must put glass windows in his vacant downtown commercial building, but that the plywood doors can stay.

The town of Fortville argued that Councilman G. Lenzy Hendrix’s property at 108-110 S. Main St. defied a local ordinance and a prior trial verdict by having plastic and plywood covering window and door openings.

Fortville’s ordinance requires window openings to be filled with glazed windows. The town argued that means glass; Hendrix argued it can also mean transparent or translucent glazed plastic.

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Hancock County Court Commissioner Cody Coombs issued an order Dec. 4 stating Fortville’s interpretation is reasonable. The order adds that while the court does not accept Hendrix’s interpretation, it also is reasonable, and his refusal to install glass after the earlier trial verdict does not put him in contempt of court as the town argued.

The order does, however, put Hendrix on notice that the plastic must be replaced with glass. It also finds him in contempt for not installing glass windows in transom openings on the face of the building, which are covered with painted plywood. Hendrix must pay $500 toward Fortville’s attorney fees, the order says.

Coombs agreed with Hendrix’s position that the town’s ordinance does not provide an interpretation of “secure doors” and determined Hendrix is not in contempt for using plywood ones.

The order encourages both parties “to openly and frequently communicate with each other as the building is brought into compliance… so as to prevent both parties from incurring unnecessary legal expenses.”

The dispute has been going on since August 2017, and the town filed a lawsuit in September 2018.

Hendrix’s term ends at the end of the month. He did not seek re-election.