CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - A lawsuit has been filed to stop any development from going forward where 165 people were killed in the 1977 fire at Beverly Hills Supper Club.
Some loved ones, survivors, and first responders, who were on duty that day, say no development should be allowed here.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Steven Megerle and Todd McMurtry in Campbell Circuit Court against Ashley Commercial Group, Twin Towers retirement homes, the Mayor and City Council of Southgate, as well as Campbell County and Municipal Planning & Zoning Commission.
Plaintiffs include: survivors, victims' family members, first responders, and the Beverly Hills Supper Club, Respect the Dead, LLC group.
The developers got the zone change needed for the project and the Southgate City Council gave it the final approval back in August.
Despite calls for heightened sensitivity to the site as a burial ground, and after refusing to conduct an archaeological survey, Ashley Commercial Group begun clearing the site while negotiations were ongoing, according to Megerle.
“That is a big deal for the family members," explained Megerle. "That was one of the catalysts that put a lot of them over.”
Everyone being represented is asking for is transparency, which is something Megerle said they have not been getting recently.
“This is very draining and you don’t want to feel betrayed like things are being done behind your back that you don’t know about and then all of a sudden," said Leslie Dischar-Henry, whose mother was killed in the ’77 fire. "I just don’t think we should be betrayed.”
In May, Southgate City Council agreed to a $65 million development on the site.
The lawsuit asks the court to reverse the zone change, which would stop development.
It also stated the site is a burial ground and construction should not be allowed.
Loved ones have also expressed their desire for a memorial where the cabaret room once stood.
“To me, my mother is still up there," said Dischar-Henry. "She’s in that group and I just want to be able to go up there and say hi to her every once in a while.”
“I have stood beside these families, I will stand behind these families because they have been hurting for 43 years," explained Tammy Nolan, head of Beverly Hills Supper Club LLC group. "That’s a long time and they need closure. That’s all we’re asking. We’re not asking for a lot.”
“There was no training for something like that," said Milo Vaniglia, a first responder. "That bad of a tragedy, but still it deserves the site to be preserved in a way that people can learn from it and remember it in a fitting manner. It’s respect for the dead in my opinion.”
FOX19 Now did reach out to Ashley Commercial Group and received this statement from them:
"Ashley has been mindful of the sensitivity of this property throughout this entire process and sought and received thoughtful input from members of the community that were impacted by the fire as plans for the memorials were prepared.
The memorials appropriately honor the victims, acknowledges the history of the property and will be properly accessible to the public. The company also offered to include construction and access to a fountain that the plaintiffs purport they want in the vicinity of where they believe the Cabaret room of the Beverly Hills Supper Club once stood.
Ashley negotiated with plaintiffs' attorneys in good faith and agreed to many of their requests. This lawsuit only further delays the placement of an appropriate, long-overdue public memorial that will hopefully bring a sense of closure to all of those who have been impacted by the tragedy of the fire.”
FOX19 Now reached out to The City of Southgate and received this statement from them:
"The City of Southgate learned of the filing of the lawsuit challenging the Council’s decision to re-zone the property commonly known as Memorial Point only late last night. The City did not receive service of the lawsuit, nor even a courtesy copy of it, and only learned of the lawsuit itself through the press conference that the plaintiffs and their attorney unilaterally engineered.
The City was blindsided by the plaintiffs, who up to that point, had represented through their attorney that they were in agreement with the Developer, and they had accepted an offer of settlement that included provisions for construction and access to a fountain which they purport to want located in the vicinity where they believe the Cabaret room of the Beverly Hills Supper Club may have once stood.
Despite the abrupt and perplexing about face by the plaintiffs, the City remains confident that it will prevail in this litigation. As was seen at the public hearings conducted by the Campbell County Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission and the Southgate City Council, the zone change that was ultimately approved by the City Council is overwhelmingly supported by the taxpayers of the City of Southgate, as well as the past and present first responders who have selflessly served and protected this City’s citizens and guests.
At both hearings, the persons expressing opposition to the development were scattered and few, and consisted mostly of persons residing outside of the community of Southgate. At the hearing before the City Council these persons and their attorney, stated that they did not oppose the zone change or even the development, for that matter. Similarly, this lawsuit does not present any substantive, legal reasons under Kentucky law to support reversal of the City Council’s zone change decision, and the City has every reason to believe that this lawsuit will ultimately be dismissed."
You can read the entire lawsuit below.