City to start eviction process against airport restaurant owner

ALBANY, Ga. — Following a brief executive session at which members sought legal advice from the assistant city attorney, the Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission voted Monday at a special called meeting to begin eviction proceedings against the owners of a restaurant/bar located at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

Noting that Trudy and Ricky Cross had allowed their insurance on the Cross Landing Eatery & Bar to lapse at midnight Sunday, the Aviation Commission said it had cause to begin eviction proceedings against the Crosses, who had sought to have their lease terminated because of what they said were ongoing problems at the city-owned facility.

"The only thing we've tried to do from the beginning of this is get the mold removed from the restaurant," Trudy Cross said while the commission met in executive session. "This problem has persisted since we first noticed a roof leak in the building in May of this year, but the city has not remediated the mold problem.

"We want to stay here; we were doing sufficient business to remain open. But not to the extent that we're willing to risk our health. Both of us have been exposed to that mold for months, and we have an independent report that shows that of the five most toxic molds, four are in that restaurant."

Assistant City Attorney Chimere Chisolm said the city had reached what it thought was "a happy medium" by replacing ceiling tiles in the restaurant.

"We talked with your attorney, and he said (when the tile was replaced) the matter was complete and he no longer represented you," Chisolm said.

Albany attorney Chevene King arrived at the airport Monday a short while after the commission adjourned its executive session and later said he does represent the Crosses in the matter.

Aviation Commissioner Frank Middleton initially made a motion to allow the Crosses to terminate their lease with the city, and it was seconded. But before a vote was taken, Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who is an attorney, said the board needed to discuss the matter with the assistant city attorney before taking a vote.

"This may seem like semantics, but there is a difference in accepting termination (from the Crosses) and moving forward with eviction of the tenants because of default on their contract," Langstaff said. "It makes a difference in what future action may be taken."

The Crosses showed copies of papers signed by health department inspector Lincoln Mitchell that on Aug. 14 indicated the restaurant should remain shut down until mold was remediated but nine days later said it was OK to re-open the facility.

A report signed by John D. Shane with Pro-Lab, which the Crosses said was the product of a city-ordered inspection, listed four types of mold reportedly found in the restaurant: chaetomium mold, ascospores, penicillium/aspergillus and acremonium mold.

"We wanted the mold remediated, and now they're trying to terminate us," Ricky Cross said. "They're saying we don't have insurance, but we had insurance up until midnight last night. And we didn't open for business today because we didn't renew our insurance. Who's going to renew insurance on a building they intend to leave?

"I also think it's funny that we've been trying and trying to meet with them about this to get it settled, but they couldn't find time to meet with us until today, when they knew our insurnce would expire."

Trudy Cross said monthly 2012 sales at the restaurant, which the Crosses have operated for the past three years, ranged from $1,073 in June to $1,469 in March before roof leaks and mold problems forced her and her husband to close the establishment for days at a time for inspections and unhealthy conditions.

Chisolm said she expects the city attorney's office to begin eviction proceedings today.

"Georgia law requires that a process be initiated before a tenant can be evicted," she said. "I hope to start those proceedings tomorrow (Tuesday)."


KaosinAlbany 2 years, 11 months ago

Wow! Something doesn't add up here. You cannot operate a restaurant or a business with toxic mold growing. What insurance company will pick up a policy with toxic mold growing? Both, city and the owners need attorneys that have toxic mold experience.


bigbob 2 years, 11 months ago

It's city owned, they don't have to follow laws like you & me. lol This city is a joke, this will cost tax payers more money. Just another day in paradise.


jglass 2 years, 11 months ago

This is crazy. If their health is an issue, why are they still in the building. Also, with them building/remodeling the airport will there be a location for them when the new one is completed?


TrixibelleBento 2 years, 11 months ago

There is mold growing EVERYWHERE in SW Georgia. We have a tropical climate. The current terminal is over 50 years old. The restaurant owners knew this before occupying their space. They're just looking for a payoff. They have sued the City over racial discrimination before...this is just another way for them to get paid. It's not a secret what their MO is at this point.


whattheheck 2 years, 11 months ago

How can any business operate on gross sales of $1,000-$1,500 a month?


AnotherMom 2 years, 11 months ago

Why would you evict someone who wants their lease terminated? Why won't the City address the mold problem?


TrixibelleBento 2 years, 11 months ago

Why should the City shell out a bunch of money to fix a mold problem when there's a new terminal being built? That's a waste of money on a building that will soon be demolished!


Cartman 2 years, 11 months ago

Here is what I'm reading between the lines:

Restaurant owner Tenants have mold problem. Landlord City tries to patch it but the problem remains. Tenants finally give up and try to terminate the lease agreement. They also terminate insurance coverage. Airport Board agrees to let Tenants off the hook since they cannot make the restaurant tenable, but defers final decision until they get clearance from the City overlords. City doesn't want egg on its face or a lawsuit either, so they head off the Tenants at the pass. Instead of just agreeing to do the decent thing and agree that the lease is terminated, the city declares the Tenants have violated the terms of the lease and are to be evicted.

What a crock. It's like firing an employee who just informed you that he is resigning.


tocar 2 years, 11 months ago

The City of Albany has always done things differently. I am suprised that any food vendors would want to open a place at the Airport. It is not like the larger airports where so many flights go in and out. I would not want to work in a place with mold.


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