POMEROY — The Village of Pomeroy has filed a response to the allegations set forth in a civil action filed last month.
While the Village has filed its response, the other defendant — Mark Porter/Porter Brothers LLC — has been granted until Feb. 11 to file a response.
In the response, filed by Ironton-based attorney Randall L. Lambert, the Village of Pomeroy admits to several of the items in the original complaint, while denying others and outlining a defense to the action against them.
The village admits that bids for the property known as Old Pomeroy High School were advertised on more than one occasion.
It further admits that, according to Ordinance 751, sealed bids were due on Dec. 4, 2011. The ordinance further reserved the right of the village to reject any and all bids, with 10 percent of the accepted bid due withing seven days of bid opening and the balance due within 30 days.
The Village further acknowledges that Mark Porter submitted a bid, but denies the allegation that no contract was entered into. The village’s filing states that an ordinance was passed accepting the bid, which created an agreement between Porter and the Village of Pomeroy.
It is also acknowledged by the village that Porter did not pay 10 percent within seven days of the bid opening or the balance 30 days thereafter.
The claims of advertising the property for re-bid on five dates in October was also confirmed, with bids due by 4 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2012.
The village admits that Council refused to consider the bids submitted as part of the Nov. 9 bid deadline and has continued to refuse to act upon those bids.
The village admits that Porter appeared before council on Oct. 8, 2012, and indicated he had questions concerning taking the project because of asbestos issues, but denies the rest of the allegations about the appearance, citing lack of information.
It was also admitted that the Plaintiff-Realtor of the civil action, Banks Construction Co. did place a bid according to the advertisement for bids due Nov. 9, 2012.
The village admitted to hand-delivering a letter to Porter on Oct. 22, 2012, to clarify his bid from Feb. 2012.
The letter stated in part:
Your bid of $20,250 was the low [sic] bid, and thus you were awarded the right to purchase the property for that amount. Shortly thereafter you indicated you wished to withdraw your bid and not purchase the property. Relying upon this assertion, the Village moved ahead to solicit bids again for the sale of the old Pomeroy High School. Recently, however, you indicated that you never withdrew your bid and wished to go ahead and purchase the old Pomeroy High School.
Therefore, in order to dispel any confusion regarding the status of your bid, the Village of Pomeroy is willing to allow you to follow through on your initial bid and purchase the property at this time pursuant to that bid of $20,250.
As for their defense to the action, the village lists six defenses while reserving the right to assert any and/or all applicable affirmation defense which discovery may reveal appropriate.
The Village did not rescind the ordinance accepting Porter’s bid, even though the payment was not made as required by the bid.
When the Village Council attempted to re-bid the property, the Village did not recall that an ordinance had been passed approving the bid and that there was finding ordinance at that time.
The statute of limitations bars these causes of action.
The plaintiff fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted upon each cause of action.
The political subdivision herein and its employees at all times acted in good faith and made a good faith effort to substantially comply with all duties required thereof.
The Defendant denies any remaining allegations set forth in Plaintiff’s Complaint which may not have been specifically adhered to in the Answer.
The following describes in detail the timeline of events leading up to the filing of the civil action.
On Nov. 12, Pomeroy Mayor Mary McAngus told council the building had officially been transferred to Mark Porter in accordance with the bid he placed nearly a year ago, which was formally accepted in February of this year.
McAngus stated that the deed had been transferred to Porter and that the sale had been paid in full. The complaint states that the deed was recorded with the Meigs County Recorder transferring the Old Pomeroy High School property from the Village to Porter on or about Nov. 14.
The announcement by McAngus came on a night when bids from the most recent sale advertisement were to be opened by members of council.
McAngus said that four bids had been received by council and would be returned unopened along with a letter stating the reasoning. McAngus stated that Village Solicitor Mick Barr would help with sending out the letter.
The plaintiff is asking that the Village of Pomeroy and Village Council proceed to open the bids which were submitted in accord with the legal advertisements in October 2012. The complaint also asks that the village and council proceed according to the law with regard to the bids submitted.
Porter had submitted the only bid in December 2011 on the property which is adjacent to his auto dealership. The bid of $20,250 was much less that the asking price of $60,000. At the time, it was estimated that it would cost $40,000 to demolish the structure. The village had advertised the property for sale twice in 2011, with Porter’s bid coming from the second advertisement. There were no bids the first time.
While council accepted the bid at the December 12, 2011, meeting, an ordinance approving the sale was not passed until Feb. 13, 2012. Ordinance 758, an emergency ordinance, accepted the bid by Mark Porter Chevrolet and approved the mayor to sign the deed for transfer of the sale.
During the April 9, 2012, meeting of Pomeroy Village Council, McAngus signed the deed allowing for the transfer to take place. At the time it was estimated that the closing would take place later that week or early the following week.
The sale of the building was not discussed with council again until June 25, 2012, when McAngus told council that the dealership did not go through with the purchase of the property. No action was taken at that time regarding the property.
Three months later, in late September, council approved to advertise the building for purchase for a third time.
Porter spoke with council during the first meeting in October, stating that he would go ahead and purchase the building if council had the proper title/deed. On more than one occasion during the meeting, Porter noted that there was an issue with the title/deed. Porter said that he never received the deed to the property and stated that Village Solicitor Mick Barr had spent several months doing research to locate the deed. Council member Phil Ohlinger said this was the first he had hear of any issue with the deed.
The building — which was built in 1914 — was home to the Pomeroy High School Panthers until the school consolidated into the Meigs Local School District 40 years ago.
Following the consolidation, the building became the Pomeroy Municipal Building, housing the water office, police department and other administrative offices. The building has remained vacant since the village moved operations in December 2009 to the former Millennium building.
The property, according to discussion at previous council meetings, was transferred from Meigs Local School District to the Village of Pomeroy in 2011.