ALBANY ALBANY, Ga. — Attorneys for the city of Albany are asking a judge to impose a $157,635 bond on the owners of the Heritage House in what they say is an effort to protect the taxpayers from what some believe is a frivolous appeal of a judge’s order to demolish the property.
If approved by the court, the bond would have to be paid before Greenbriar Holdings & Investments LLC. and its principal owner, Romeo Comeau, could continue their appeal of Judge Stephen Goss’ order to demolish the property, which was handed down following a Sept. 19 hearing. A jury determined that the former hotel had “no value” and was a threat to the public safety and welfare.
In the motion for the bond, Assistant City Attorney Chimere Chisolm writes that the purpose of the bond is to “protect the public from increased financial and other costs by the filing of the instant non-meritorious appeal.”
The city also contends that the appeal of the judge’s order was filed “solely for the purpose of delay” and to prevent the city from demolishing the property.
During the September hearing, city code enforcement officers testified that there was evidence that the dilapidated structure was being used by vagrants, drug users and prostitutes and that the property was littered with drug paraphernalia, used condoms and feces.
If the judge orders the bond and Comeau is unable to pay it — he remains in arrears by more than $26,000 on his taxes and more than $310,000 on his mortgage — a judge could order the property to be torn down immediately or give him more time to do it himself.
The Dougherty County Tax Department put the property’s tax lien up for sale earlier this year, but the property failed to sell.
City officials have said that demolishing the property would cost between $800,000 and $1.2 million. If the city does the job, the owner would be required to pay that money to the city before it could sell the property or build on it.