A Sisters jerky and produce stand owner has filed a $2.5 million federal lawsuit against the city and several officials, claiming they are trying to shut him down because they don’t like his style of business.
That business is Wild Mountain, a jerky and produce stand on the east side of town, just off Highway 20. Owner Ky Karnecki sells dried mushrooms, fruits, vegetables and several kinds of dried meat from an 8--by-20-foot wooden storefront.
Karnecki opened the store in 2011, using a similar business’ temporary use permit as a model. And while city code said the building would need to be removed after each season, that requirement wasn’t written into the condition for the temporary use permit.
What’s more, the 29-page lawsuit claims Principal Planner Eric Porter told Karnecki that code provision had never been enforced, and there was no reason to believe it would be enforced on Wild Mountain.
However, earlier this year, Karnecki was required to close his business for six weeks until his new, 2013 temporary use permit went into effect.
Now the city is telling him he needs to move again, and is charging him $500 every day he doesn’t.
“You’re telling me this has to go -- I have to close, I have no other income,” Karnecki said. “If I comply with the city’s demands, I’m at risk of losing my home, because I can’t pay my rent.”
Calls Tuesday to the Sisters city attorney and mayor were not returned.
City Manager Andrew Gorayeb told NewsChannel 21 he could not comment on the pending litigation. City Councilor Wendy Holtzman said she also could not comment on the lawsuit.
In the suit, filed in federal court last Friday, Karnecki claims the city has committed conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights, tort interference of his business relationships, emotional distress, slander and defamation.
Ten city elected or appointed officials and employees were named, including Gorayeb, Holtzman, her husband, Planning Commission Chairman Alan Holtzman and Mayor Brad Boyd.
Karnecki says the city has had it out for him from the beginning, and in the lawsuit states he has recorded city meetings in which he and his business came under fire.
He says city leaders thought his storefront was an eyesore in the community and looked for ways to revoke his permit.
“They’re trying to run me out of town on a rail because, I’m not, what, a member of the club so to speak,” Karnecki said.
Calls to Karnecki’s attorney, Foster Glass, also were not returned Tuesdasy.