Bankruptcy to force out 28 families

City likely to turn off water to west side mobile home park unless $50,000 bill gets paid. Westwood Management Co. also owes $293,000 in back property taxes.
Tom Jackson
May 9, 2013

Residents of Hoppers mobile home park on Venice Road may soon be searching for a new place to live.

Fed-up Sandusky officials said they haven’t received a water and sewer bill payment from mobile home park owner Joseph Yost in about five years, and they simply won’t tolerate it any longer. They are now threatening to cut off water to the mobile home park, at 2513 Venice Road, a move that would force tenants to move.

“It’s likely the water is going to get turned off,” said Hank Solowiej, the city’s finance director. “The sad part is a lot of the tenants, I don’t think, have a clue about what’s going on.”

Alice Seevers, 50, who lives at the mobile home park with her family, said she’s been told everyone must be gone by Aug. 8. She said she’s looking for another home.

“We’re hearing from the health department, the water department, but we’re not hearing from the landlord himself,” she said.

Hoppers has 36 lots, eight of which are vacant. That means 28 individuals or families would be forced to move.

The Erie County Health Department has been holding a series of meetings with Erie County Job and Family Services, city officials and others to discuss how to help tenants who are caught in the middle, Erie County environmental health director Bob England said. 

Another such meeting is set for Friday at the health department.

“Our main concern is that when they shut off the water, we’re going to have people occupying the structures within the park without potable water,” he said. 

If people can’t wash their hands, use their toilets or take a shower, it creates immediate public health problems, he said.

“We want to get ahead of this situation and make sure that these issues don’t crop up,” England said.

The city sent a final shutoff notice to Westgate Development Co., 1651 Tiffin Ave., on March 25, demanding payment of about $47,130 by April 8. The notice said if payment isn’t received, water to the mobile home park would be cut off.

That deadline wasn’t enforced, but the city wanted to make it clear it is serious, Solowiej said.

In the meantime, the amount that’s owed has surpassed $50,000, he said.

This isn’t the only money Yost owes the government. He owns Westwood Management Co. LLC. The Erie County auditor’s website shows Westgate Development LLC, listed at the Venice Road address, owes the county about $293,500 in property taxes.

Solowiej said the last time Yost made a normal water and sewer payment was back in 2008. Solowiej took over the finance director’s post in 2010. When Solowiej’s predecessor, Ed Widman, could not collect on the water bill, the debt was assessed to property taxes.

“That was something I really wasn’t comfortable in doing,” Solowiej said. “We came to the determination that this needed to stop.”

Sandusky’s patience won’t last forever, Solowiej said. 

“It’s possible we are going to shut the water off,” he said.

The property has a single water meter for everyone, so individual customers cannot pay their own water bills to keep the water flowing.

“Our arrangement is with the property owner,” Solowiej said.

Sandusky city manager Nicole Ard said the city has been working with other agencies, such as the Erie County Health Department and Erie County Job and Family Services, because it wants to minimize any impact from a water shutoff.

“We don’t want people out of their homes or out of water, but something has to be done,” Ard said.

The Register contacted Yost for comment, but he declined because he didn’t have the relevant documents handy. 

“I’ll get back to you,” he said, but he never did. 

Jo Dee Fantozz, Erie County’s treasurer, said she can’t go after Yost for failure to pay property taxes because Yost has filed for bankruptcy, an action that ties her hands.

Court records for the Northern District of Ohio’s bankruptcy court show Westgate Development filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and obtained a final decree in 2011.

 

Comments

Reva

And if this was Tom, Dick or Harry it would have been shut off after one missed payment. Why did you carry the park for so long?

IT'S ME

"That deadline wasn’t enforced, but the city wanted to make it clear it is serious."
LOL, so what exactly was done to make it clear they are serious?? It WASN'T ENFORCED!

Sharin' Johnson

“I’ll get back to you,” he said, but he never did.

Think about it. Dats DEEP!

luvblues2

28 families in dirt cheap housing isn't reason enough to keep the water going, Reva?

reader

Maybe the law department can figure a way to seize the lot rent payments these families are making monthly and apply it to the water bill?

luvblues2

Great idea reader! Beats throwing them out to find whatever. The trailer park people could come together and set up an escrow account instead of paying the landlord. He evidently is using it to benefit himself. That would "turn his water off", so to speak.

Brick Hamland

The law department would have to file a lawsuit against Westgate (the owner) and then ask the court for a receiver to run the property. The receiver could collect rents and pay the city. The bankruptcy could have an effect on this depending on how the water bill was handled in the case, if it was discharged or not. Free legal advice to any of the tenants--- dont pay the landlord. If you stop paying Westgate they would have to evict you. The court in Sandusky would not grant an eviction or order you to pay rent while the water issue is out there. So stay there as long as you can for free... Joe Yost has really had a negative effect on a lot of people's lives when you think about this and then cold creek crossing issues he stuck all the residents with

FlyBoy86

So basically you want the city to subsidize the park? Good luck with that.

2cents's picture
2cents

Too funny, where were the red flags when his home went up for sheriff sale three years ago?

Darwin's choice

Which time? That home was in the paper about 7 times.....! This guy is a snake!

samiam

Isn't this the same guy that scr**ed the city on the Cold Creek home development out on Venice Rd?

I like Reader's idea too. Perhaps the city's wonderful Law Director could help guide the tenants as to what their rights are.

Contango

Were the residents' water payments to the LLC up-to-date?

IMO, the residents need an atty. - and fast!

IMO, the residents should also contact their state rep., get the state govt. involved.

Big bad local govt. throwing low-income people out on the street? The residents need some media coming to their defense. Call one of the Cleveland TV stations. IMO, this won't play well in Peoria.

IMO, they may not be able to stop the inevitable, but they can slow the process down.

Sharin' Johnson

An dey had all ther savings in gold. So double BOO :(

Kottage Kat

WEWS NEWS
3001Euid
Cleveland. 44115
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deertracker

Reva is RIGHT! How can this guy keep getting away with this stuff? Yes, he is the guy that screwed the city in the Cold Creek fiasco. Where are these people going to go and why no serious repercussions for Joe? If this were a poor person the City would have acted LONG ago. Shame!

Kottage Kat

3001 Euclid
Corrected

God Of Thunder

Although I hate to see any families going through this, it is the best thing for them. I think it's a great thing for the city to be helping them. That property has been neglected for years, and a lot of those mobile homes aren't the scrap you could get for them.

The next step is to take a bulldozer in there..

And yes, he is the one involved with the Cold Creek Development

nothing new

The ONLY people I feel sorry for are the KIDS who live there. If anyone knows what that trailer park is like and the people who live there...you'd agree. May be a blessing this place gets shut down. ..maybe just maybe most (not all) these ppl will get a real job..or spend the money they actually have on legit things like a better place to live. just sayin

deertracker

Okay, so what is JOE!?

bullydogs1971

"If anyone knows what that trailer park is like and the people who live there...you'd agree." Used to live in this park.....So i guess i qualify to speak! Some of these people have "real jobs"....some have lost "real jobs" and are still recovering from those losses.....some are just ridin the welfare state that our Socialist leaders are pushing.....(we have a record number of people on welfare...not blaming Obama or his cohorts...just stating a fact) For most it is the difference between feeding their kids or a "better place to live". I for one loved only paying 175 mo. lot rent and spending my money on legit things....like FOOD FOR MY KIDS! Was there 5 years and met the best and worst people you could imagine but one thing they all have in common is they are all real people trying to get by and live in this F'ed up time in America were a "better place to live" would take most of what little a person can make in this destroyed economy we are in. So i take it you have a good job a nice place and all your priorities staight??? Good for you! How bout you lend a helping hand to some of "these people"??? either that or just STFU and quit passing judgement on those less fortunate than you before Karma bites ones Asterist and you find yourself in their shoes.....have a good day!

starryeyes83

Another idea:

When you rent or consider renting a place whether it be a house/duplex , apartment in a complex or trailer ...Go on the auditors' website and see if that property OWES ANY Back Taxes AND call the water company to see if the property owners are up to date on their bills. It may take a few tries under different searches but at least you would have a better idea of what you're going into.

The Answer Person

Why not sell the owner's cigarette boat, wife's house on 42nd, boat house on Bimini Drive and his house on Autumn Drive? That should cover the amounts owed shouldn't it?

FlyBoy86

The beauty of being a LLC is that his own personal assets are protected from any garnishments from said LLC if any were to arise.

Julie R.

Might protect the personal assets of the owner or owners of a company but it sure doesn't protect the LLC.

There's also a scam going on with these LLC's that maybe the OAG should be looking into. I know people with the assistance of the Erie County courts that are knowingly buying properties involved in fraud at court-ordered scam sheriff sales to use as rental properties and setting them up in LLC's. Hard to believe that's legal.

FlyBoy86

I have my company setup as an LLC; it's to protect my family incase something were to ever happen. Not all are setup fraudulently.

Julie R.

A company being set up as an LLC is logical. I don't know of any company around that isn't. It's done to protect the personal assets of the owner or owners in the event the COMPANY were to ever get sued ..... but can you think of any logical reason somebody would buy a HOUSE at a court-ordered sheriff sale and set it up as an LLC?

I can. It has to do with fraud.

pavedparadise

Clap Clap Clap. Once in awhile you do come up with an answer person.

queenjhb

The answer person, I like your idea,any left over money can be used to update the Trailer park , help these people out by making it a bit better for all.

Julie R.

Why doesn't Fantozz just forgive his $293K in back taxes like she did the $200K for the prosecutor?

mobekat

I heard High Touch Homes in Greenwich needs some trade-ins.

pavedparadise

Isn't this the same con man that is involved with other tax delinquent properties in town? Cold Creek Crossings for one where Sandusky City paid for road improvements under an agreement of payback as lots were sold. Oh wait, Sandusky taxpayers are paying for it.

KURTje

Reads like that so&so Jerry Stackhouse. Hope the people there make it .

arnmcrmn

Name one family evicted? You can't because there weren't any.

TheIrish

Joe Yost is a crook who was collecting lot rents and utilities and not paying the city! I demand they keep the low income families in their homes and seize Joe Yost's home instead to clear the debt. I know that man has assets yet. Doesn't he still own the Westgate Center that formally leased Dollar General? Seize that and sell it to pay off the taxs and repay the interested parties he screwed over when he claimed bankruptcy on Cold Creek Crossings. I heard there are still local family owned construction companies that never got paid for the work they put into that! Someone needs to end this crooks life long career as a paper criminal and put a shovel and rake in his hand to earn his keep next to the lot he took advantage of his whole life while living the dream up near Plumb Brook Country Club.

Darwin's choice

Cigarette boat at Venetian Marina, home/and/or property on Kellys Island, wifes home deeded away to keep from loosing it, pattern of a con man!! Baxter should be looking into filing charges against this weasel !!

queenjhb

Joe, is this fun for you? Why would you mistreat folks like this? Ego trip? Be a man , remember men dont take advantage of people struggling, they help them out.