Larry Price asked the city for the plans to the “beleaguered and infamous” Hofbräuhaus on Dec. 21, according to the suit. He also requested any change orders. The $12 million German restaurant and brewery is under construction off Illinois 15 near the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
Eric Rhein, Price’s attorney, declined to comment. Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert acknowledged that he received the complaint on Wednesday. He referred questions to City Attorney Garrett Hoerner, who could not be immediately be reached for comment.
A spokesman for the Hofbräuhaus developers also could not be reached for comment.
Price, who previously worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is requesting the records, attorney’s fees, costs and civil penalties.
“Said demanded plans, specifications and change orders are public documents, especially because city taxpayers spent almost $3,000,000 to install sewers to benefit the out-of-town developers,” the lawsuit states.
The city failed to provide specifications, civil engineering drawings, soil borings and a copy of the building permit, Price said in letter to City Clerk and city FOIA officer Dallas Cook.
On Feb. 15, Price received a letter from the city attorney in response to his FOIA, the lawsuit stated.
“ … The … request was denied based upon exemption. I assume that a city FOIA officer properly applied Section 7(1)(k) of the FOIA, which exempts from public disclosure construction related documents. ... Accordingly, the city has no further response to such request,” stated Hoerner in the letter that was attached to the lawsuit as an exhibit.
The law exempts from public disclosure “Architect’s plans, engineers’ technical submissions and other construction related technical documents for projects not constructed or developed in whole or in part with public funds and the same for projects constructed or developed with public funds, including but not limited to power generating and distribution stations and other transmission and distribution facilities, water treatment facilities, airport facilities, sport stadiums, convention centers and all government owned, operated or occupied buildings, but only to the extent that disclosure would compromise security.”
Rhein stated in the complaint that no “security” concerns were asserted by the city and none are present, “unless the city is referring to Mayor Eckert’s job security …”