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City says hearing will have little impact on grocery store

A new Williams Food grocery store is currently under construction in Piedmont with an expected opening date of early March.

If a judge sides with 10 Piedmont citizens who have filed a law suit against the City of Piedmont it will not disrupt plans for a new Williams Foods grocery store, and if the group loses, they could have to repay the city its legal fees, mayor Mike Fina said.

A hearing is scheduled for Jan. 21 where Canadian County Judge Gary Miller will hear the citizen group’s claim that the city has unlawfully agreed to help Williams Food, Inc. build a new grocery store in Piedmont.  Fina said there is no case because the city has not yet decided on the way it will contribute $1.9 million towards construction costs and that a ruling against the city will mean very little.

“Nothing is going to change the plans to open this grocery store,” Fina said.  “I’m not worried about the lawsuit. If there was any concern whatsoever we wouldn’t move forward on the project.”

Because no final agreement on how to pay Williams has been made, Fina said there is little substance to the case.  But if the judge sides with the city, Fina said the city will go after the group of citizens in order to recoup its legal fees.

“This hasn’t been fair to our city’s tax payers to foot the (legal) bill,” Fina said.  “We have to go after that money.  But if for some reason we don’t prevail, there is nothing for them to recoup because there has been no money spent by the city on this project yet.”

City attorney David Davis did not return a request for comment, but Fina said he expects the legal fees to “be in the thousands of dollars.”

According to Phil Boevers, one of the citizens listed on the suit, and his attorney Andy Bass, the plaintiffs are confident they will win their case, but if not, they are planning to refile against what they feel are several other wrongdoings by the city.

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