City to place lien on Wisteria Farms

No guarantee Sandusky recoups $59,000 it spent on cleanup costs
Andy Ouriel
Aug 24, 2014

ouriel@sanduskyregister.com

A privately owned property keeps causing headaches for public officials and community members.

At wits' end trying to eradicate a never-ending nuisance, Sandusky city commissioners on Monday plan on pursuing a lien against the Wisteria Farms property, formerly Esmond Dairy, located on Campbell Street near the railroad tracks.

The lien, totaling $59,000, represents all known taxpayer dollars to date spent on demolition, cleanup and other related costs since spring 2013. Earlier this year, city officials told the Register only $13,200 had been invested into this property.

In spring 2013, city officials arranged for an emergency demotion on the building after parts of the former factory unexpectedly collapsed.

Most of the asbestos-laden bricks and concrete — piling as high as 15 feet  — stayed on site for almost a year after demolition occurred.

Sandusky officials couldn't act quicker, they contend, because the city doesn't own the property — Marilyn Prieur does.

Tired of waiting, city commissioners this past spring decided to meddle into her private arrangements and approved spending money to remove on-site debris, doubling as a public safety threat.

Their valiant attempts still fell a bit short.

Many of the hazardous bricks, blocks and garbage remains.

A new feature, however, sprouted up: Weeds have now grown several inches high between the debris strewn about.

"There is no question that it's still a nuisance," commissioner Dick Brady said. "You can't leave neighborhoods like that. How would you feel living next door to bricks? It looks like a third-world country."

Placing a lien on the property, however, doesn't guarantee a refund of taxpayer dollars.

Prieur would either have to:

• Pay the lien in full — an unlikely scenario, considering the Erie County auditor's office indicates she owes $11,400 on this property.

• Sell the property to someone willing to purchase this $92,000 property, saddled with a $59,000 lien.

"The only way we can get our money back is to put a lien on the property," Brady said. "We cleaned it up and made it safe. Our only course of action now is to bill them for what we paid for."

It's unknown at this point what city officials can do to completely clean this property.

"We are trying to find some kind of dollars that are available to clean this nuisance up," Brady said. "We have a responsibility to abate the nuisance that could still jeopardize the safety of our citizens."

Despite the challenges, many residents want officials to remove all rubble sometime soon.

 

Making sense of the dollars and cents

Sandusky city commissioners placed a $59,000 lien against the Wisteria Farms property owner to recoup all taxpayer funds spent on demolition and cleanup.

Among who they spent the money to and for how much:

Date                        Amount      To
April 2013              $2,500        Mannik and Smith
September 2013   $400            Affiliated Environmental
September 2013   $24,700      Port Clinton landfill
October 2013        $8,400         H & H Environmental
October 2013        $1,000         Affiliated Environmental
October 2013        $8,800         Abdoo Wrecking
October 2013        $4,000         H & H Environmental
May 2014              $9,200        Jenkins Environmental

Note: Figures rounded

Source: Sandusky finance department

Comments

lunchtime 175

with that much spent so far that should of covered tearing the place down and hauling the asbestos items and rest of the bricks, etc. to a proper landfill that accepts asbestos, etc. It should of never been just torn down and the stuff left laying around for that much money. Anything with asbestos in it has to be contained in the proper way and not just dumped on the ground and left to lay where the asbestos can blow around and get into ground water with the rain, etc. The companies that did the tearing down should be held responsible for how they tore it down and be investigated on why they did not properly take away the asbestos containing materials as required by State laws and EPA laws. The firms that did that can get fined big time by the EPA for how they handled the tearing down and leaving the asbestos containing materials lay on the ground. Sounds like the firms that tore it down, etc. took the city for a ride for their money.

Licorice Schtick

If they think this is a fiasco, wait'll they get a load of Dixon-Ticonderoga.

The Answer Person

Can't they just sue Prieur? Public nuisance?

T. A. Schwanger

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Have you tried squeezing blood from a turnip?

T. A. Schwanger

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$59,000 in local taxpayer dollars for this property and another $27,000 in local taxpayer dollars for the Hooper Trailer Park. It's this type of corporate welfare that takes money away from much needed street improvements, park improvements, housing improvements etc.

I can't recall the last time a lien was placed on a property by the City and was able to collect.

The properties mentioned will, with the highest degree of probability, be placed in the City or County Land Bank Program, sold for pennies on the dollar with all assessments, liens and taxes forgiven.

LivinOnTheLake

Seems like this Marilyn Prieur is somehow related to the guy who was making cookies in that building back in the early 2000's. He was always wanting money/grants from the City and County, yet he never paid his taxes because he didn't believe in them (must have been Amish). It is a shame properties like this are around Sandusky and it does paint a bad image for the city as they try to lure new business to come here. Who would want to come to a place with a bunch of dilapidated buildings sitting around?

Home Boy

Yost should be next!!

Darkhorse

The taxpayer always picks up the tab for irreponsibility of a property owner. Between the two properties, there is $86,000 owed that the city will never get back. The decay of the city is just overwhelming, years and years of neglect and the city is paying dearly for it.

Licorice Schtick

The problem is baked into the system. When demolition and clean-up cost is more that the value of the resulting property, The People often get stuck with the bill.

The essence of the problem lies in flaws in the law and the way it is enforced, or not. It has little to do with "irresponsible" property owners; that's a simplistic and naive view. Many properties like this were doomed to economic failure long ago, but long after the original builder was dead or defunct. In this case the most recent owner(s) may or may not be guilty only of having the bad judgement to buy a hopeless property. It was a Sheriff sale, right? What would have happened had he not bought it?

Many, properties that have been effectively demolished by neglect would be viable today had building codes been enforced in a timely manner, but that's politically difficult for a several reasons.

Right here in Ohio, in a coup for its stockholders (management's duty is to its stockholders, right?) a major corporation walked away from what became a superfund site in Painesville Township. Who do you think is going to be holding the bag when the corporation that now owns Davis-Besse goes bankrupt because the plant can no longer produce and must be decommissioned? Makes the problem in this article seem trivial, doesn't it?

Kenny V

If the city officials would have worked with the late Bill Prior on making this property a viable asset. This would have never come down to this. There were plans in place for this property and building but city officials would not open their doors to listen to them.
With out the city officials on board with these plans. No power could be installed into the structure for improvements to be done. The improvements that were taking place were being run off of a generator. Progress was being made to the structure until the city officials closed their doors and ears to anything being done. Even though improvements were taking place they would not take the property off the abandoned building list so more progress could be made.
Unfortunately Ms Prior is caught up in this, Not by her own doing. But by her late husbands grandson not being responsible enough to continue the project he talked his grandfather into investing in. When the ball was thrown into his court he is letting Ms Prior take all the heat.

007

Bill had no intention of doing anything with the property except salvaging copper etc. What he didn't do was check it over to see the previous owner had already stripped the building of all semi precious and purchased it for $16,000. Then just sit on it, regardless his wife tried to give the rest of the property to the grandson Brian Rogers so she could skate away from liability but Rogers wife wouldn't have any part of that. As stated in my other post there are avenues to explore that have been hidden!!

mtrixie316

007 get with the god damn program. As usual you don't know what the hell you are talking about.Why don'y you get a job and quit your ranting and raving about something you know nothing about.

sugar

Doesn't bother me at all.

SamAdams

Maybe instead of letting things get to the point where a last-ditch lien effort needs to be conducted, the City should enforce codes from the beginning! If the codes aren't going to be enforced, then why are they on the books?

The same thing is true with things like back taxes. Sure, sometimes people run into financial troubles that mean they need to pay late, or establish some sort of a payment schedule instead of the semi-annual lump sum. But there are properties in town (and in the county as a whole) that are SUBSTANTIALLY in arrears!

Once somebody gets that far in the hole, chances are good they're not going to get out. And lien or no lien, chances are even better the city (or county) isn't going to recoup its money whether the property eventually sells or not. The simplest and most money-saving answer? Don't let things get so far out of control in the first place!

Licorice Schtick

Completely correct, but it's impossible to enforce codes if the voters don't demand it, and they don't know any better. Reason does not prevail. Money controls government and information.

Babo

In a property tax sheriff sale the county gets paid before any other lien holders including banks holding mortgages. Thus, there is no excuse whatsoever for the county not to foreclose on seriously delinquent properties. In the worst case, the county will own the property outright if there are no bidders and can place it in the land bank.

Julie R.

In corrupt Erie County they make sure the county gets paid first even when there are NOT any lien holders.

doppleganger

They should go after Doug Hildebrand - the previous owner. It was a dump before he abandoned the place. Oh wait - he has so many liens now people will never get paid. DEADBEAT!

007

She and her late husband both worked at GM for 30 years and retired, not to mention the insurance policy she received.. It goes even deeper, her husband signed half the property over to his grandson Brian Rogers, so if the city really wanted to recover lost taxpayer dollars there is a way!! The large garages that are on the east end of the property stayed there for a reason.

Julie R.

For the life of me, I can't figure out that auditor's website.

For example, when I checked out Maximal Properties LLC again it shows the LLC now owns another property on Buckingham Street in Sandusky in addition to the house in Huron obtained at a court-ordered scam sheriff sale. The Sales Data shows that the realtor obtained the property on Buckingham Street in 2006 for $0.00 from the Secretary of Housing & Ur., sold it in 2009 to a couple for $86,700.00, and then in 2014 bought it back under the LLC for $0.00 through a QuitClaims Deed.

Either I'm reading things wrong or the Erie County auditor's website doesn't make a bit of sense.

T. A. Schwanger

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Every time the City decides to bail out these types of properties using local dollars, whether the funds are from the general fund, CDBG or any other local fund, another street goes unpaved or a sidewalk goes unrepaired or another home goes unrepaired, etc.

When do these bailouts end?