CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (FOX19) - A Campbell County judge granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday in a case against the developers of the Beverly Hills Supper Club site, halting progress on construction of the development slated to replace it.
A fire on Memorial Day 1977 infamously killed 165 people and injured more than 200 at the supper club.
The approvals were complicated by complaints centering around how victims of the fire should be remembered, including whether one of two planned memorials should be in the care of an HOA or, alternatively, be open to the public. Respect the Dead, a group of victims' families, argued for the latter.
Then in September Respect the Dead, as well as some survivors and first responders who were on duty during the fire, filed suit to stop the development from going forward on different grounds with firmer legal footing.
The lawsuit was filed was against Ashley Commercial Group, Twin Towers retirement homes, the mayor and city council of Southgate and the Campbell County and Planning and Zoning Commission.
According to the complaint, Ashley began clearing the site while negotiations over what the complaint calls “the burial grounds” were ongoing. Ashley also refused to conduct an archeological survey, the complaint says.
Attorney Steven Megerle, representing the plaintiffs, previously argued Kentucky law prevents a city from allowing buildings or development on burial grounds. An Ashley attorney responded the site didn’t qualify as one, potentially setting up the outlines of each side’s legal arguments.
Megerle told FO19 NOW Tuesday some who lost family members in the fire believe those members’ remains may still be in the area of the cabaret room, where the most lives were lost.
The suit asks the court to rule that 2.5-acre portion of the site is in fact a burial ground. It also asks the court to reverse the zone change of July.
Megerle calls that plot “hallowed ground” and asks it be “given the same respect as an Indian burial ground would be.”
Pat Crowley, a spokesperson for Ashley, issued the following statement after the restraining order was granted Tuesday:
"The court has issued a temporary restraining order on statements made by attorneys that Ashley believes to be without merit and without an opportunity for Ashley to respond. Ashley fully expects this injunction to be terminated at the hearing on a permanent injunction where facts and reason may be presented to the court.
“The entire site is 77 acres, and the area where the Cabaret Room was located is less than 1 percent of the property. As Ashley has stated earlier, the company does not own the property and is not performing any construction. The only activity being performed is due diligence related to the sale.”
A date for a court hearing has not been set in the case.