Biomass foreclosure sale set

Published 11:06 am Friday, December 26, 2014

Buyers sought to recover back taxes

SOUTH POINT — The six parcels that make up what was once the Biomass property adjacent to The Point industrial park in South Point go on the auction block on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

In October Lawrence County Common Pleas Court granted a motion for a default judgment on Biomass for its failure to pay the county approximately $50,000 in back taxes, allowing the county to foreclose on the property.

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Since November of 2013, county prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson and county treasurer Stephen Burcham have sought payment from Biomass

“I am encouraged it is continuing to move forward,” Burcham said. “It is going to be beneficial to the children, particularly of the South Point district, which will see the majority of the taxes collected. I think everyone should be a good corporate citizen and pay their taxes. I appreciate the prosecuting attorney in bringing this to collection.”

The sale will be done separately for the six parcels. The largest parcel was 49.02 acres with a minimum bid of $42,443.79, according to the judgment filed. That is made up of $41,649.07 in taxes with $48.90 in court costs.

The next largest parcel is for 23.69 acres with the current minimum bid at $4,865.63. That is followed by 4.5 acres at $2,159.15; .35 acre lot at $844.63; .33 acre lot at $2,342.40; and .23 acre at $893.25.

Those minimums will actually be more, however, because they do not include interest on back taxes and taxes for 2014. That will be calculated later.

In July of 2014, 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. He did not.

Biomass had purchased the property to develop a 200-megawatt power plant. That plant would produce electricity that Biomass would sell to power companies.

The acreage is contiguous to The Point, the fast-growing industrial park in the eastern end of the county and was originally part of the former Honeywell-Allied Chemical plant site.

Ironton entrepreneur Robert Slagel said it would be advantageous for The Point to acquire the acreage.

“To free it up and out of Harris’ hand and be able to do something with it,” Slagel said. “He has been sitting on it. It has been a thorn in the side of Lawrence County’s economic development.”

Acquiring it would be the decision of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, which is having its annual meeting at 8 a.m. the day of the sale.

“The issue is how much it would cost to clean the site up to where we didn’t have liability on it,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the LEDC, said. “The LEDC will assess the environmental standing of it and who else would be interested in coming in to create jobs. If there is a company going after it to create jobs, we will help them. We are pleased there is some resolution on this parcel of property. It is unfortunate it has sat dormant for years.”

Terms for the sale will be the same as a sheriff sale where successful bidders must put 10 percent down with 30 days to make final payment.

“This shows everybody has to pay their fair share of taxes whether they’re a company or an individual,” Anderson said. “The ultimate goal is to get a new taxpayer. In this instance one that not only creates jobs for the county but also pays their taxes.”

The sale starts at 11 a.m. on the first floor of the courthouse.