So, when is somebody going to clean up that hotel?

So, when is somebody going to clean up that hotel?

by pauldingcommunityblog

One of the biggest questions on residents’ minds these days is the lingering debris from the Hotel Barnes fire  a.k.a. the “brick pile,” “the brick yard,” etc. It’s been well over 100 days since the blaze and the rubble appears to be no closer to being cleaned up then it was the week after the fire. But actually, the matter has been smoldering behind the scenes since January. Here’s a brief synopsis of what’s been going on.

The hotel’s owner is a corporation that basically is out of business and has no assets. The statutory agent resides in Florida. The hotel was sold on land contract a couple of years ago, but that contract was not fulfilled. There’s more than $5,000 in back taxes owed. Under normal circumstances, if owners of a property don’t take care of cleaning up debris from a fire, tornado, etc., it could be cleaned up by a municipality and the owners assessed for the cost. That won’t work in this case since there’s already back taxes owed, the corporation has no assets, and apparently Florida law won’t allow costs to be attached to any property owned in that state. Therefore, local authorities here no recourse to force the owner to address the situation.

Paulding Village has resisted getting involved, saying at various points that it’s not their responsibility, they won’t waste taxpayers’ money, they don’t have money to do cleanup (which they say is estimated at $30,000), they don’t have authority to trespass on the property. They’ve also said “we’re working on it” and that no one wants to see it cleaned up more than they do.

There have been innumerable phone calls, emails and sidewalk conversations between various parties about this. Paulding Chamber inquired with a Village official about having a public meeting to discuss the situation and options, but never receied a response.

A couple of weeks ago, a private citizen (one who is intimately connected with this blog) approached one of the commissioners about the back taxes owed on the hotel. He, in turn, talked to the county prosecutor, who immediately set in motion the procedure to foreclose on the property. Once the procedure started, it would take 120 to 150 days (which would be late September or late October) to complete. The paperwork was ready to file, but at the last minute, the Village asked the prosecutor to hold off because they were trying to acquire a grant to have the property cleaned up. The Paulding Chamber had made some contacts about finding grant money.

While the grant/foreclosure scenario is in limbo, a new wrinkle has appeared: a private citizen told the chamber that he is trying to acquire the hotel property from the owner and hopes to have it cleaned up before John Paulding Days.

Soon, thousands of people will be in town for Relay For Life (June 1-2) and then John Paulding Days (June 7-9) and the Paulding County Fair. A large number will drive by “the brick pile” and wonder why it’s still there. Hopefully, someone will be stepping forward soon and do what needs to be done for the good of the community.

pauldingcommunityblog | May 26, 2012 at 9:26 am
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