Biomass foreclosure sale set

Published 10:05 am Thursday, November 5, 2015

SOUTH POINT — The two parcels pulled from the January foreclosure sale on property owned by Biomass are slated for a foreclosure sale this month.

In January Biomass owner Mark Harris made an eleventh hour payment on delinquent taxes on four of the six parcels he owns adjacent to The Point industrial park.

For more than a year Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham and Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson attempted to get Harris to pay more than $50,000 in back taxes.

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Harris was given a 90-day reprieve during which he did not pay off any of the delinquency. That forced the foreclosure sale.

Two parcels were pulled because the prosecutor’s office had learned just before the auction that there was a mortgage on them that needed to be investigated.

Now a representative from the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation is expected to bid on them, according to LEDC executive director Dr. Bill Dingus.

The parcels are sites of a landfill following a cleanup and an ash pond and would not be marketable, Dingus said.

“There should be some kind of public ownership to take control of them (for safety reasons), he said.

Back taxes on those parcels, including taxes for this year, total more than $5,000. On top of that no taxes on any of the six parcels have been paid for 2014, that adds up to almost $15,000.

Minimum bid for the smaller parcel is $2,903.91 with the minimum for the other at $6,546.34.

In August, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed against Harris, South Biomass, Harris’ son, Tyler Harris and the son’s company, Renewable Resources, over their alleged illegal demolition and renovation at the Biomass facility.

DeWine filed the action at the written request of the director of the state environmental protection agency.

“Defendants endangered the health of Lawrence County residents due to their illegal and/or renovation activities at the South Point Biomass General facility,” the complaint alleges. “The demolition and/or renovation activities at the facilities caused asbestos — a hazardous air pollutant widely known for its carcinogenic effects – to be discharged into the environment.”

The complaint lists 11 counts, of which each could cost the defendants up to $25,000 a day in penalties from Aug. 10.

Since a jury trial was not requested in the case, it has been transferred to the magistrate. A hearing date has not been set. The foreclosure sale will be Nov. 23 at 9 a.m. at the Lawrence County Courthouse.