Man on hunger strike to keep city away from business

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PHOENIX - A Valley man is staging a hunger strike to keep the City of Phoenix from taking his business.

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Man on hunger strike to keep city away - azfamily.com's Frank Camacho reports a Valley man is staging a hunger strike to keep the City of Phoenix from taking his business.

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Nevertheless, the city says his actions have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The dispute involves the often-emotional issue of re-locating a business in the name of progress as the city gets ready to construct more light rail tracks.

Seamus King, the owner of Kings World of Marble, says the city has been unfair in its negotiations. The city, however, says it has been more than fair. To date, this dispute has cost you, the taxpayer, $400,000.

While King says he has proof that the city has dragged its feet, the city disagrees.

"The property was sold by its property owner to the City of Phoenix a long time ago,"said Deb Ostreicher, a city spokeswoman. "They [Kings World of Marble] don't own the property. They don't rent the property. They don't have any rights to the property."

Kings World of Marble has occupied the space just north of the airport for 14 years. King says ownership of the land is not the issue under the Federal Relocation Act.

"It's got nothing to do with whether I own the property or if I was a lessee. ... You fall automatically under relocation," he said.

"We have been as fair as we possibly can be ... by allowing them to stay on this property -- rent-free -- all this time," Ostreicher said.

The issue at hand now is that the property in question lies in the path of the Phoenix SkyTrain.

Also, King says the city has not put one offer on the table while the city spokesperson says they have offered the business owner up to $200,000 to relocate. While King is eligible for more, the city says King has not provided the necessary paperwork. King disputes that.

The issue should be resolved next week when both parties appear in Superior Court.