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Property owners want out of lawsuit

GLENDALE — Owners of the property that the Montrose Collection sits on have filed a legal document asking to be removed from a criminal complaint against the restaurant — which has been embroiled in a dispute over whether the it violated zoning laws — since they are not involved in the business’ operation.

An arraignment Tuesday for all five defendants named in the lawsuit — Arman and Takui Aivazian, owners of the Montrose Collection; Alfred and Ramona Teichert, who own the property on the 2800 block of Honolulu; and ATNA Enterprises, a corporation that is part owner of the Montrose Collection — was postponed, giving the Glendale City Attorney’s Office a chance to respond to the demurrer filed on behalf of the Teicherts.

The lawsuit alleges that owners of the Montrose Collection violated municipal codes for operating their restaurant primarily as a banquet hall, using more than one-third of the facility for private parties.

A city rule established in 2002 makes it illegal for new restaurants to use more than 29% of the business for private parties. But buildings zoned before the implementation of the rule are exempt.

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The Aivazians argue that their business license was grand-fathered in to that exemption, a right that city officials say the Aivazians lost when they expanded their facility in 2005.

The charges were filed after Glendale’s Board of Zoning Appeals decided to revoke the restaurant’s parking reduction permit, which was granted on the proviso that the Aivazians adhere to the 29% usage threshold.

The Teicherts are asking that they be removed from the lawsuit entirely, said attorney Laura Crawford, who appeared Tuesday on behalf of attorney Michael Levin, who represents all five defendants.

Levin declined to comment on the case Tuesday because it is an ongoing criminal matter.

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The demurrer — the legal document asking that they be removed from the complaint — will be addressed at an April 3 hearing, when the Aivazians and ATNA’s arraignment will resume and they will enter a plea, said Dorine Martirosian, the deputy city attorney handling the case.

Takui Aivazian would not comment on the case.

Officials at the City Attorney’s Office will review the demurrer and decide how to proceed, she added.

During the course of the dispute, the Aivazians filed a $2-million lawsuit of their own against four residents who are accused of harassing customers and making inaccurate claims about the impact of banquet hall operations on the neighborhood.

The Aivazians have since dropped the suit against two neighbors, community activist Margaret Hammond and restaurant neighbor Loren Harris, in a move that was intended to confront concern over freedom-of-speech issues, Takui Aivazian said in October.

The remaining parties on the suit, Robert and Sharon Thompson, who live behind the restaurant, are scheduled to appear March 11 in Glendale Superior Court.


 CHRIS WIEBE covers public safety and the courts. He may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at chris.wiebe@ latimes.com.


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