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Monday, March 08, 2021
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O'Reilly's move to 'North Sullivan' leaves blighted properties in Sullivan

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Photo by DENNIS CLARK

The owners of this property in the 500 block of South Section Street
in Sullivan and a duplex behind it have been issued certified letters
for being in violation of the city of Sullivan's nuisance ordinance.
These properties were expected to be the site of a new O'Reilly Auto
Parts store, but the company decided to move to another site on North
CR 300N.

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The Sullivan City Council discussed the fallout and recourse taken due
to O'Reilly Auto Parts' decision to not build in Sullivan, but instead
set up business on North CR 300N in "North Sullivan" earlier this
month.

Mayor Clint Lamb described to the council about the switch, saying
"because it's been just such a controversial and sticky situation with
O'Reilly's. We all remember the issues they caused to the city of
Sullivan. Pitting citizens against citizens, friends against friends.

"You remember they came to the city three years ago . . . remember
we didn't 
go to them, we didn't seek them out."

Lamb said SimonCRE, the developer for O'Reilly, originally had
handshake agreements with property owners on South Section Street next
to the Dollar General.

"Those property owners, essentially, asked some of the tenants to
leave in anticipation of this development," he said. "So that caused
heartache with citizens of the community and landowners of our
community. And they were insistent that's where they wanted to go,
across from Baesler's and next to Dollar General.

"Then if you remember a year or so later, they were insistent they
wanted to purchase property off the Wamsleys. So they got the Wamsleys
involved, another Sullivan family, brought them into this issue. You
remember how may times the Plan Commission had to meet, the (Board of
Zoning Appeals) had to meet and the countless hours our building
commissioner (Brian Pound) had to answer questions from Arizona on
weekends, evenings and everything else.

"We also know it was a hot topic when they purchased the Trent
property. That also upset folks. We had a very spirited discussion for
several months on whether that should take place or not. Well now,
they have totally backed out and they have purchased or entered into
an agreement with the (Catlin) auto parts store in "North Sullivan,"
the mayor said.

It should be noted during the discussion, council member Gene Bonham
had coined "North Sullivan" to describe the area where businesses have
matriculated through the years just north of Sullivan's city limits.

"I don't think the city is upset, per se, because it lost an auto
parts store because I think we all knew that we have a lot of auto
parts stores," Lamb said. "But at the end of the day, the city not
only lost a business that we didn't even pursue, but for the record,
we did lose a business to "North Sullivan."

Lamb said the city is now saddled with what to do with the two
buildings on its main thoroughfare — in the 500 block of North Section
Street — that he said have been stripped and are in total violation of
the nuisance ordinance that the council passed back in October.

"So Gene, to your point, another business lost to the north and who
will be responsible for footing the bill for this cleanup?" Lamb
asked. "Now we can say the property owners, right? But the property
owners, let's say, they don't because of the litigation or whatever's
going on with this deal that's gone sour. Once again, the city of
Sullivan will pick up the pieces and clean up the mess, like we always
do. Like we have for decades."

Lamb told the council that two certified letters containing emergency
condemnation orders have been mailed out to address this issue. After
research, he said there were two owners of the properties determined —
the Parnells still own the Trent building, SimonCRE, the group that
came with their attorney, own the duplex behind.

"So we'll see how this goes," he said. "The building or buildings are
uninhabitable."

Lamb read from the condemnation letters saying, "Please take action to
avoid the cost of the city razing the structures. You are to commence
the following action within 10 days from the date of this notification
and the action must be completed within 30 days and not exceed 60
days. Tear down the structure and clean up all material and debris,
leaving the lot level, clean and ready to mow. This order becomes
final within 10 days unless you request a hearing within a 10-day
period. You are entitled to appear in said hearing with or without
legal counsel present, present evidence, cross exam opposing witnesses
and present arguments. If you request a hearing and fail to appear,
this matter will be decided in your absence.

"That was sent with a copy of the new nuisance ordinance."

Lamb said there has been a lot of calls to City Hall from concerned
citizens saying the properties are definitely a hazard, open and
somebody could get hurt.


"It goes against everything we are trying to do in the city with
neighborhood revitalization," he said.

Bonham estimated about "six to eight"  businesses have been lost from
the city to "North Sullivan."

Lamb agreed, adding "This is a new one that we say we lost, but we
never went after it. The parade, the exodus continues.

"I'll go out on a limb here. Outside of COVID-19 and other economic
factors like with Hoosier (Energy), this could be the largest detriment
to the city of Sullivan over the next 30 years. The growth of "North
Sullivan." Yet that trend continues that you alluded to. Businesses
continue to leave. Because these guys are not here to pay these guys
here (referring to the city's police, fire and public works
departments)."

"So if that trend continues, what will be left to pay … I don't know,"
Lamb noted, then added to Bonham, "So good question, I'll get you an
exact number (of lost businesses) at a future meeting."


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