Sale of old bus garage moving forward despite delay

By Sarah Hawley -

RUTLAND — The sale of property by the village of Rutland is expected to move forward after a slight delay.

Mayor Mike Biggs told council that the sale of the old bus garage property and log cabin property was not closed upon as planned on April 6, but could possibly happen in the next week or so. The buyer, Commerce Street Partners (on behalf of Dollar General), has asked that a revised appraisal be completed on the property prior to the closing taking place.

Biggs explained that the cabin itself has been sold and will be moved from its current location shortly, although the move may take place after the actual closing on the sale of the property.

Members of council questioned whether the actual contract committing the village to sell the property to Dollar General had been approved by the previous council, authorizing then-Mayor April Burke to enter into the contract with the buyer.

Councilwoman Kimberly Wilford looked back at meeting minutes from 2016 when the project was initially brought to council by Burke and then-Chief of Police Shannon Sheridan to verify that council had approved the project. Minutes from the May 18, 2016, meeting, which Wilford located, stated that council had approved the deal to sell the properties for an amount of $60,000.

The June 15, 2016, minutes provided additional details of the project as initially approved. “Once the process starts they will be building a high end establishment with a reservoir in the front of the building in case of flooding. A new road will be put between the Civic Center and Dollar General and will be maintained by Dollar General,” state the minutes of the meeting.

Council discussions on Monday evening indicated that the access road and “retention pond” appeared to no longer be part of the project and were items that needed to be discussed with Dollar General and/or contractor for clarification.

Councilman Duane Weber stated that he would like to meet with Dollar General prior to the closing to discuss the project and their plans for the property.

While the village is in possession of site plans, those plans are approximately two years old and may or may not still be the same. Some of the questions raised by Weber and Councilman Steve Jenkins were with regard to drainage from the property, sloping of the property and the potential impact to Civic Center Drive, and parking/access road concerns in the area.

Biggs told council that a contractor had been at the property recently to look at the area and had initially intended to break ground on April 12 had the closing taken place on April 6.

Current village officials do not have contact information for Dollar General, and will therefore need to reach out through their attorneys in order to try to facilitate a meeting. Biggs had a business card for the contract who had visited the site, information he shared with Weber to set up a potential meeting.

Council also expressed concern over the reason for the revised appraisal which is delaying the closing, wondering if it could have an impact on the purchase. Biggs stated that it is possible the new appraisal is needed by the lender as the other one was two years old. With the purchase amount already approved in the signed contract it would not have an impact on the purchase price.

Biggs acknowledged that the contract which was approved gives Dollar General plenty of ways out of the sale, but does not give the village a way to opt out of the deal.

“We are obligated to fulfill the contract,” said Biggs.

The old bus garage property was the subject of legal action between Meigs County and the village of Rutland which was settled earlier this year. Under the terms of the settlement, the village is allowed to dispose of the property in any manner they set fit as long it is properly handled according the law. As previously reported by The Daily Sentinel, legal council for the village, according to statements made at the March council meeting, could proceed with the sale as previously approved.

By Sarah Hawley

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.