The owners of the BP station in Fox Meadows were in court today but despite very vocal community members they have been approved to re-open.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding, "the respondents have expressed a willingness to address the alleged nuisance behavior occurring at the gas station."
The terms of Agreement are as follows:
1. Respondent agrees to install operable surveillance cameras so as to monitor the entirety of his property including the area in the front of the store where the gas pumps are located and the front and sides of the store;
2. Respondent agrees to dedicate one employee and/or security guard during the peak hours of operation to monitor the outside of the store where the nuisance activity is alleged to have occurred. This dedicated employee/security personnel shall so monitor this activity for at least 2 months after the execution of this agreement;
3. Respondent agrees to meet with representatives of the MPD to discuss and address any concerns relating to the nuisance activity;
4. Respondents agree to pay a fine of $200 to the MPD to offset a portion of the costs of the investigation and in lieu of a public auction. Check to be made payable to the Memphis Police Department, Organized Crime Unit.....;
5. Respondent agrees to place No Trespassing signs around the outside of the gas station and store and to execute an affidavit allowing and authorizing the Memphis Police Department to enforce this No Trespassing property. This should be completed with seven days of signing this Agreement;
The gas station may re-open on October 16th, 2013 upon approval of Environmental Court.
The DA's office had reportedly worked out a deal to allow the gas station to reopen but environmental court judge Larry Potter decided they needed to appear in court.
The BP station at Knight Arnold and South Mendenhall was shut down since last week, after several complaints by neighbors of drug and gang activity.
It was supposed to be a done deal but the padlocks will stay on the Knight Arnold Food and Fuel gas station in southeast Memphis after it was accused of being a public nuisance by the Shelby County District Attorney's Office.
The BP convenience station at the intersection of Knight Arnold and Mendenhall was padlocked Oct. 9 and neighbors have been complaining about drug and gang activity in that area for years.
The reality is sometimes promises are made to be broken. In a deal that was made without any public input it was decided by agreement with the DA's office this business would be back up and running Monday.
But neither side banked on Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Carla Addison, who filled in for Judge Larry Potter, pulling out her own red flag challenge.
MORE: SE Memphis gas station declared public nuisance
MORE: Fox Meadows store deemed nuisance will remain closed; hearing scheduled
Fox Meadows gas station owner Sohail Hemani thought he had a deal with the district attorney's office virtually in his hip pocket. But, a funny thing happened on the way to getting his business reopened after being shut down as a public nuisance.
A previously silent partner to the agreement balked at signing off on the arranged terms.
"The issue is the State can agree with what the two of you can get together and work things out," Judge Addison said. "That's great. The court doesn't necessarily have to accept it. Right now the court is not accepting it."
Judge Addison relayed the bad news to the grim faced Hemani and his surprised attorney, Andre Wharton. Despite all his legal protestations she would not be budged or cajoled into allowing the store to be reopened Monday. It was probably music to the ears of neighbors who've publicly alleged the establishment has been a location for drug and gang activity.
After studying the information contained in the original nuisance report, Judge Addison voiced concern over one glaring issue Judge Potter felt had still to be addressed by the embattled owner.
"A lot of this alleged misconduct occurred in front of, around, with the implied permission of employees of the establishment," Judge Addison said. "Until such time that these individuals can show that they are longer working at this establishment, then the court is not inclined to reopen it. Clean house. Judge Potter's words."
"Typically when you're having these complaints, some employee has been indicted or charged with an offense or some direct evidence an employee has done something unlawful," Wharton said. "There were no such allegations in this complaint."
The closing of the business continues to cost his client thousands of dollars, Wharton added. That did little to sway Judge Addison, who played down Hemani's losses when she compared it to the months Memphis Police investigators put into detailing illegal activity at the site.
A disappointed Hemani defended his efforts to keep riff-raff away from his store, including the posting of their pictures on the front of his store. He alleges he's been threatened because it.
"Two weeks ago one guy came and track me," Hemani said. "He say, 'take it out, my picture from the window or I'll beat you.' Straightforward. I cannot fight with them, you know? I go outside and nicely tell them, 'don't hang out on my property. Please move.'"
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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