With fines up to $22,000, old city hall owners plead not guilty to nuisance violation

The old Pendleton City Hall was gutted by fire on July 21 and the roof was destroyed, as shown in this photo taken from a drone soon after.

Facing $22,000 in fines for violating Pendleton’s nuisance ordinance — an amount that is increasing every day — the family that owns old city hall pleaded not guilty at municipal court Tuesday.

In front of Pendleton Municipal Court judge Will Perkinson, Jose Quezada and his daughter Diana Quezada entered their plea and told the judge that they would utilize legal counsel.

Perkinson explained that the family had been cited every day between Jan. 4 and Feb. 16. Since the presumptive fine is $500 per day, the Quezadas have been fined $22,000.

In an interview after the meeting, city attorney Nancy Kerns said the city will continue to cite the owners unless something changes with a municipal judge’s ruling.

A trial date has not yet been set.

Old city hall was heavily damaged by a July 2015 explosion, which killed Eduardo Quezada, Jose Quezada’s son.

More than a year after the explosion, the city began warning the family that the building was in violation of the nuisance ordinance, which requires fire-damaged buildings complete repairs within a year of the fire.

The city initially offered a few extensions as the family began building a new roof for the building, but city council voted Jan. 3 to begin fining them when they didn’t finish the roof by the Jan. 1 deadline.

The Quezadas contend that a historically bad winter and other factors outside of their control prevented them from completing the roof on time.

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