OSKALOOSA — As the legal dispute between the City of Ottumwa and Larry Clabaugh awaits a final outcome, a new case with similar details has been filed in Mahaska County.

The City of Oskaloosa has asked the courts to prohibit Clabaugh from storing or placing property on a property he owns in the 400 block of South 17th Street. The filing accuses Clabaugh of storing “nine unlicensed vehicles and a dilapidated trailer home on the site.”

The property is in a community commercial zoning area, which does not allow the storage of such vehicles. The city’s filing said it gave Clabaugh a notice to abate, a directive to move the vehicles, but he has not done so.

Part of the dispute centers on Clabaugh Enterprises, Inc., which the city said was dissolved by the state in August 2018. Clabaugh’s response to Oskaloosa’s petition said the company “is a valid and existing Iowa chartered corporation and has not been dissolved.

The suit, filed in May, followed another legal tiff in which Oskaloosa won title to 1327 Ninth Avenue East, which was previously titled to Clabaugh. Judge Shawn Showers concluded in January the property had been abandoned under Iowa law. That case was filed in mid-2017 and appears to be being appealed.

The Ottumwa wrangling dates to a couple months before the 2017 Oskaloosa case. In April 2017 the Ottumwa City Council authorized court action over a planned car auction by Clabaugh on property he owns in the 2400 block of North Court Street. Ottumwa officials said Clabaugh had brought in “at least 27 vehicles” to the property and was attempting to operate his business in a residential area.

Ottumwa’s complaints also included accusations of improperly dumping debris at the site, blocking access to city property, and construction of a fence that encroached on neighboring property.

Clabaugh, who gave his address as Oskaloosa in court filings, responded by filing to run for mayor in Ottumwa. He was kicked off the ballot after his filing was challenged. A panel of two council members and the city clerk concluded he did not live in Ottumwa.

The case eventually went to trial in January 2018. Clabaugh did not attend; he later cited medical issues from a fall in Oskaloosa in a successful bid for a new trial. He walked out of the second trial after the judge denied his motion for a continuance, claiming new medical difficulties. Again, the district court granted summary judgement for Ottumwa.

That outcome is currently on appeal.


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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