April 14, 2024

The abandoned Rutland bus station. Address would be nice

RUTLAND – A land development deal involving the Village of Rutland is in dispute.

An agreement with an incoming business misrepresented the Village’s assets, according to information gathered by the Meigs Independent Press.

Meigs County Commissioner Randy Smith says a representative of Dollar General confirmed to him that the company entered into an agreement with Rutland Village in June 2016 to build a store on the site of the former bus garage.

The abandoned Rutland bus garage area across from village hall. Photo by Carrie Gloekner.

The Commissioners contend that since 2012, nearly all of Rutland Village’s properties and assets, including the alleged building site, have contractually belonged to the Meis County Board of Commissioners – part of a measure to avoid Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sanctions and prevent the Village defaulting on their loans.

That contract, published in part below, states the Meigs Board of County Commissioners agreed to pay off existing Ohio Water Development Authority loans the Village had incurred during the upgrade of their water and sewer systems.

A portion of the April 2012 contract between Rutland Village and the Meigs Board of Commissioners.

In exchange, the Village agreed to “sell and transfer ownership of the water distribution and sanitary sewer collection and treatment systems along with all appurtenance, assets, debts and rights-of ways, easements and permits” to the Board.

During the Aug. 2016 meeting of the Rutland Village Council, Rutland Mayor April Burke denied to Commissioner Randy Smith rumors Council were in negotiations with Dollar General representatives, saying “We have only been talking to them, nothing has been decided. We were just exploring the idea with them.”

At that time, Smith indicated the Commissioners “would welcome the opportunity to pursue the matter” and “supported economic development in Rutland, but they (Rutland Village) could not sell land they did not own.”

Mayor Burke stated that the Village would not continue to pursue a sale of the bus garage and surrounding assets without involving the Commissioners.

Earlier this month, a sign reading “Dollar General coming soon to this site” was placed on the property.

Also during the Aug. 2016 meeting, Smith told the Council none of the properties specified in their 2012 document had been transferred by the Village as agreed, and failing to do so was a violation of the agreement.

Discussion by the Council yielded no consensus whether they knew if the property was transferred, or even that it should have been. Some council members stated they were unaware of the agreement, as it had taken place before their terms began.

Council member Lowell Vance, then Rutland Mayor and signatory of the agreement, also seemed surprised by the information, and said he did not know anything about transferring ownership of the property in question.

A portion of the April 2012 contract signed between Rutland Village and the Meigs Board of Commissioners.
Per records obtained from the Meigs County Recorder’s Office, the transfers have not occurred as of January 18, 2017.

At this time, the Village has ceased all communication with the Board of Commissioners, and referred them to the Village’s legal council. Rutland Village Council President Kip Grueser confirmed to the Meigs Indpendent Press this was the case.

Meigs County Prosecutor James Stanley, acting in his capacity as the County’s attorney, said he is looking into the matter.

Stanley stated, “the County’s position is that the Village is in violation of the agreement due to the fact the properties have not been transferred.”

Council President Grueser would only respond “no comment” when asked any questions by the Meigs Independent Press concerning Dollar General and the village. Multiple attempts to contact the mayor were unsuccessful.