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

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.

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