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By Kristina Pritchett
Thomas Volkmann, owner of Dana Point Foreign Car Service, recently filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the city violated his rights.
According to the lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court on April 14, the city “unlawfully coerced” Volkmann into executing an agreement to close the auto repair operations on the property to avoid criminal sanctions threatened by the city. It said any such agreement was under duress and was induced by the city’s unlawful conduct.
The court documents said during the construction along Del Prado, direct access to Volkmann’s business was removed, which “was unreasonable and substantial” because it eliminated direct access to an abutting street and left the property with only a non-conforming entry point from a rear alleyway.
The document continues to say the city’s conduct in removing the direct access rights constitutes damaging of the plaintiff’s property and business rights.
In 1958 the original owner received approval for a use variance permit. In 1969 when that owner applied for another permit to expand the business, the Board of Supervisors issued a resolution with conditions.
According to the document, the original owner never expanded and never used that permit, which then expired and became void as a matter of law one year after its issuance. And because it was void, the permit’s conditions had no effect; therefore Volkmann could not be forced to close his business or to comply with the conditions of the permit.
In August 2015, the city said Volkmann failed to comply with a permit that expired and was void. In October 2016, Volkmann signed an agreement to close the business no later than Aug. 31, 2017.
The lawsuit said that at the time of the agreement, Volkmann was unaware of the inaccuracies of the city’s claims. He entered into the agreement under duress and unlawful threats of criminal prosecution by the city.
According to the lawsuit, Volkmann is asking for damages for litigation expenses, for costs of suit incurred and for other relief the court deems appropriate.