An attorney for the owners of the Woodville Mall claims a court ordered demolition plan was submitted to the Northwood by the August deadline, but city officials ignored it.
Adam Burke, attorney for the mall owners, said the plan had actually been filed several days before the deadline.
“This is a land grab for the city,” Burke said in a prepared statement. “The owners cannot complete the demolition on the property without a city permit. And the city has blocked us at every turn.”
The city, he said, has demanded the owners post a $1.7 million bond, which was not part of the court order.
“Several industry experts have found the bond to be wrong and unattainable,” stated Burke.
On January 17, the city filed a complaint against the owners of the mall, Ohio Plaza Shopping Center LLC and Woodville Mall Realty Management LLC, in the Wood County Court of Common Pleas for nuisance abatement, and removal of the building.
After a hearing on Aug. 8, Wood County Court of Common Please Judge Reeve Kelsey ruled that the owners must raze the building by May 2, 2014, and set up a schedule for the owners to follow in preparation of the demolition. First on the list was the construction of a fence around the property’s perimeter to be maintained until the abatement is completed. The owners complied by the Sept. 2 deadline.
But the owners failed to meet a September 30 deadline, as part of the ruling, to submit abatement plans to the city engineer, including a plan for the safe removal of asbestos, Northwood Administrator Bob Anderson told The Press in October.
Burke claims that Anderson and Law Director Brian Ballenger ignored an amended plan that was submitted in response to city concerns.
"The court order includes a lien intended to force owners to complete the demolition on time. Instead, the lien has motivated the city to block the demolition,” states Burke.
Anderson told The Press on Thursday that the demolition plan submitted by the owners did not meet standards required by the court.
“It’s five sentences, mostly just saying `We’re going to tear down the mall.’ It’s literally five sentences. It didn’t address anything at all,” said Anderson.
About a week ago, the city received the amended plan, which was forwarded to the city engineer, he added.
“We’re not ignoring them. There’s a lot of asbestos involved. It’s a complicated deal. They missed the deadline of September 30. But we still want the owners to tear down the mall,” he said. “We don’t want to have anything to do with that mall.”
The owners are required to obtain a permit and the bond because it’s required by city ordinance.
“They have to get a permit. In order to get a permit for demolition, they have to get a bond. They still have to follow the law,” said Anderson.
The amount of the bond was determined by the city engineer’s cost estimate of the demolition and removal of asbestos, he said.
Mall owners have filed a motion with the Wood County Court of Common Pleas to force the city to permit the demolition to go forward, according to Burke.
“We want the city to follow the court order and let us do our job,” he said. “We are ready, willing and able to do the demolition now. The city just needs to get out of the way.”
Anderson said he is unaware of the court motion.
“I don’t know if he has filed papers or not. I haven’t seen anything. But if he feels it’s unfair and he has a good case, God Bless him. Let the court decide. That’s the proper place to do it and we’ll abide by the ruling,” he said.