YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The City of Youngstown has been threatening to file a lawsuit against the owner of the Chill Can Plant, but the owner of the plant Monday beat the city to it.
Lawyers for the Joseph Manufacturing Company filed the lawsuit claiming the city has no right to take anything from the company.
The Chill Can plant sits idle on the Youngstown’s East Side. No cans have been made and no jobs created since ground was broken five years ago.
The city threatened to file a lawsuit if a viable plan to get the facility running wasn’t presented by the end of May.
The lawsuit filed by the Joseph Company claims the city has no right to recover grant money that was awarded to the project. Several agreements were in place through the Urban Renewal Plan, using money from Youngstown’s water fund, wastewater funds and environmental funds, according to court documents.
The plan included a 75% tax exemption for property improvements for the 10 years, and there is also the issue of the land that the Chill Can plant is built on.
The lawsuit claims that the city has no right to recover the grant money.
The Joseph Company maintains that the agreement only allows the city to reclaim grant funds in the event that the developer fails to comply with “all the rules and regulations regarding the receipt of grant funds,” which they claim has not happened.
The lawsuit called the contract language between The Joseph Company and the city “plain and unambiguous.”
The lawsuit claims that the Joseph Company is not in default on the deal and that “several unforeseen circumstances,” such as ramifications from COVID-19 and supply issues, have slowed the project, but they are not in default, and that the city has no right to take possession of the property or the right to any monetary damages.
The company is asking the court to award costs incurred and attorney fees, though an amount was not mentioned.
At the time of this report, no official from the city was able to be reached for comment.
The City of Youngstown has invested $2 million into the project.