WINFIELD TOWNSHIP — A dilapidated former gas station in Amble may finally get cleaned up after years of decay.
Montcalm County Building Department Director Scott Minard condemned the two-acre property at 15350 Howard City-Edmore Road (M-46) last July.
The 1,680-square-foot building was built in 1980. Thebo Foods sold the property to Kanton Realty in 2000. Jolly Roger in New York City purchased the property in 2005, but the property went into forfeiture last March due to unpaid taxes.
According to Montcalm County Treasurer JoAnne Vukin, the owner has until April 2 to pay delinquent 2009 taxes on the property or the county will officially foreclose on the property. Vukin would then have the option of offering the property to the state and local governments or keep it.
Minard said he condemned the property due to “lack of maintenance on the building and property, broken windows and garbage and rubbish left inside.”
“He (a Jolly Roger representative) ignores any notices sent to him,” Minard said of Jolly Roger. “I basically won’t have anything else to do with it unless someone wants to take some sort of action on the building.”
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is now getting involved, which may help speed up the process.
According to David O’Donnell, district supervisor for the Grand Rapids office, the DEQ plans to conduct soil tests in August. The DEQ will use in-house equipment and resources from Lansing to reduce costs, which are estimated to be less than $10,000.
“We have made efforts to contact the owner, but to no avail,” said O’Donnell.
O’Donnell said DEQ officials will press hollow tubes into the soil to check for levels of contamination, due to gas tanks being buried beneath the soil. DEQ officials will check the water table for contamination as well.
“After the foreclosure sale (which would take place at the Montcalm County Administrative Building in September), we’re hoping the new owner of the property will voluntarily allow us access,” O’Donnell said.
Minard told the Montcalm County Economic Development & Physical Resources Committee on Monday that he’s received an “extremely high number of complaints” about condemned properties in the past three months.
“The condemned properties are very time consuming, a real pain in the neck,” he said. “They take up a lot of time for me. It’s not easy, it takes a lot of time going through the legalities and then making the investment to clean it up.”