Allegheny Auto Body owner will fight settlement

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A month after he ignored an order to vacate, William Lieberth Sr., owner of Allegheny Auto Body on the North Side, is continuing his fight to keep his family's auto repair shop on Route 28, where a project is under way to widen the road.

This morning, Mr. Lieberth will appear in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas to oppose a motion from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to force the 56-year-old West Deer resident to accept a settlement and vacate the property on East Ohio Street.

PennDOT, which acquired the land through eminent domain, has said the ongoing Route 28 work requires demolition of Mr. Lieberth's building and the adjacent parking lot. Mr. Lieberth ignored a letter he received from PennDOT in July telling him he must vacate his building by Aug. 6.

"I have nowhere to go, that's the main thing," Mr. Lieberth said Thursday. He added that he wants to remain in the vicinity of his current address, visible to his customer base and separate from the competition of other auto repair shops.

PennDOT first contacted Mr. Lieberth about acquiring his property and relocating his business in March 2007 but failed to reach agreement for years, even as 15 residents and 24 businesses were relocated, most with amicable settlements, the state agency has said.

PennDOT paid Mr. Lieberth $115,000 in estimated just compensation for his property in November 2011, including liens. The Aug. 6 deadline for him to vacate his shop came and went and Mr. Lieberth remained.

His attorney, Harvey Robins, reached an accord with PennDOT near the beginning of August, agreeing to a $245,000 settlement and a move-out date by Oct. 1, according to a PennDOT court motion.

But Mr. Lieberth, who said Thursday he wanted at least $500,000 and a relocation of his business to a site near his current address, said he did not authorize his attorney to agree to the settlement.

His lawyer, whom he discharged Aug. 22, will file a motion for the payment of attorney's fees from a PennDOT settlement at today's hearing.

According to a PennDOT spokesman, the construction phase requiring Mr. Lieberth's property will begin in late 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

businessnews - neigh_north

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707. First Published September 7, 2012 4:45 AM


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