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Tank cleanup to cost county $20K, possible property sale in reach

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GREIG — A foreclosed property in the town of Greig should have garnered some extra income at last year’s Lewis County tax auction.

Instead, an environmental cleanup set to begin soon will cost the county at least $19,075.

“There were tanks on the property, and that wasn’t disclosed at the auction,” said David J. Kogut, who has continued to operate a bottle-and-can redemption center. Mr. Kogut rented the building, a former gas station at 5223 Greig Road, from the owner, Richard Dinardi.

After Mr. Dinardi, Constableville, failed to pay $1,559.56 in taxes, the property was included in the county’s annual tax auction, selling for $8,000 last May.

Though environmental problems can be discovered if the state Department of Environmental Conservation places a lien against the property, Lewis County Legislator Philip C. Hathway, R-Harrisville, said then-County Attorney Richard J. Graham reported there were no such liens.

“They still should have disclosed the tanks,” Mr. Kogut said.

As Mr. Kogut was still paying rent to Mr. Dinardi, his business continued throughout the foreclosure process and auction.

Mr. Kogut said the high bidder was not aware of the tanks until he came to the property following the auction. After the bidder’s discovery, the sale quickly fell apart.

Because the county had foreclosed on the property, it became the legal owner and therefore responsible for cleanup.

A study performed on the tanks produced hopeful results. The tanks still contained gas and no water, indicating they were intact and not leaking.

Following a bid process, legislators authorized Paragon Environmental Construction to remove and remediate the tanks at a base price of $19,075. If all goes well, the cost should remain at roughly $20,000. Legislators will negotiate with Paragon to reduce related costs by utilizing county personnel and equipment for the project. The project costs will be covered by delinquent property auction proceeds.

The future of the property is now “in the talking stage,” said County Attorney Joan E. McNichol, who took office March 31.

For the past year, Mr. Kogut has been in discussion with the county through Mr. Graham. “I have an interest in keeping the business here,” Mr. Kogut said.

Mr. Kogut was not required to pay rent to the county in the interim. Coverage for the building has been provided through the county’s liability insurance policy, on which the site is listed as one of the buildings it owns.

If the cleanup goes smoothly, the property could be put into the county’s tax auction set for May 21. Meanwhile, a deal could be finalized to sell the property to Mr. Kogut.

The property includes the former gas station building on a 130-by-107 foot lot and is assessed at $24,100.

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