OGDEN — A landlord has filed a federal court lawsuit to stop the demolition of a Grant Avenue duplex declared dangerous by Ogden City.
A squatter started a fire in the building in late 2019, prompting the city to order Douglas E. Bruce to re-secure the dwelling, which has been unoccupied for more than a decade.
In his U.S. District Court complaint filed in Salt Lake City on March 16, Bruce, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, alleged Ogden officials unconstitutionally down-zoned his property to single-family residential in 2009.
At the time, his property — a pair of duplexes and a cottage at 3166 and 3172 Grant — was rented out in five units. Bruce said the rezoning made it impossible to keep operating the properties fully as rentals, although he was allowed to keep renting one of the 3172 duplex units.
The zoning further prevented Bruce from being able to sell the dwellings at anything close to fair market value, his suit contended.
In January, the city declared the 3166 duplex dilapidated and dangerous and notified Bruce it would tear down the building unless he did.
Mayor Mike Caldwell issued a demolition order after a March 6 hearing, the suit said.
The suit requests an injunction and a restraining order preventing the demolition and declaring the city zoning action unconstitutional.
It said the city’s actions are “a willful invasion and attack on plaintiff’s constitutionally protected property rights.”
Bruce said he calculated he has lost $327,000 in rental income since the rezoning. He has owned the buildings since 1983. They were built in 1907.
City officials are aware of the disputes with Bruce but have not yet seen the lawsuit, Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said Friday.
“We won’t respond in detail until we actually receive that,” Johnson said.
Assistant City Attorney Mark Stratford described the dispute as “a confluence of land use and building maintenance issues.”
“Our understanding is that Mr. Bruce has not made some repairs to some of the buildings and as a result one of them has been determined to be a dangerous building,” Stratford said.
Bruce also contended he did not receive adequate due process during the time of the zoning decisions.
Bruce was a state legislator and an El Paso County commissioner in Colorado in the early 2000s.
The Denver Post reported Bruce was convicted in Colorado state court in 2011 of tax evasion and attempting to influence a public servant.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Bruce is also in a legal fight over a distressed property he owns there.
Weber County property records show Bruce owes $6,919 in delinquent taxes on the Grant Avenue properties.