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Biomass site to be sold

Owner has 30 days to make appeal

SOUTH POINT — Foreclosure on the Biomass acreage adjacent to The Point industrial park is official.

“The foreclosure should be finalized today (Tuesday),” County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson said. “The judge has ordered the property sold.”

Earlier this month the court granted the state’s motion for a default judgment on Biomass for its failure to pay Lawrence County close of $50,000 in back taxes.

Since November of 2013, Anderson and county treasurer Stephen Burcham have sought payment from Biomass, which currently owes $47,161.71 in back taxes and administrative fees.

In July, Biomass owner Mark Harris contacted Burcham to say he only received notice that the taxes were due 10 days earlier. Burcham then gave Harris 90 days to pay the amount in full. The last time a payment had been made on the tax bill was in 2012 for $1,735.55.

Biomass had purchased the property that had been part of the former Ashland Inc. ethanol operation to develop a 200-megawatt power plant. That plant would produce electricity that Biomass would then sell to power companies.

The company is delinquent on all the parcels it owns in South Point.

Anderson expects a sale date to be set next week, which will probably be the first part of January.

“(Harris) has 30 days from the date it is journalized (Tuesday) with the clerk to appeal to the Fourth District Court of Appeals,” Anderson said. “Based on the fact, it was a default judgment that probably is not going to happen. But everybody has a right to appeal.”

Economic development leaders have long viewed the acreage as a potential addition to The Point. Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, said cleaning up the acreage will be an expensive proposition since it was part of the former ethanol plant.

“We will be watching and hoping for the future,” Dingus said. “The property will be of great value to South Point and Lawrence County as a whole. It offers a great opportunity for job creation. However we do recognize there may be huge costs to getting it ready before it can be used.”