Court orders evicted Drumanard owners to explain why they failed - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Court orders evicted Drumanard owners to explain why they failed to pay rent

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A judge has given the former owners of Drumanard until Friday to explain why they didn’t pay rent to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet while living in the mansion the state bought for the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The Soterion Corp., which sold the eastern Jefferson County property to state officials for $8.3 million in 2012, has not answered questions about its failure to make rent and property tax payments for nearly a year, according to court documents.

Soterion has repeatedly asked for more time to respond, but in June “it became apparent that the discovery answers were not forthcoming anytime in the near future,” Nicole E. Angst, the Transportation Cabinet’s assistant general counsel, wrote in a June 29 motion filed in Jefferson Circuit Court.

In July, Judge Steve Mershon ordered the company to answer questions and produce documents in the case within 30 days, or by Aug. 26.

Michael A. Valenti, who is listed in court filings as Soterion’s attorney, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The expansive estate off Wolf Pen Branch Road long has been a contentious part of the bridges project, whose Kentucky approach passes under Drumanard’s woods. In 2003, the U.S. government chose to tunnel beneath the property’s grounds in a bid to meet a federal law that requires projects to avoid historic places, if possible.

As part of a sweeping preservation agreement, project officials also agreed to add an easement to Drumanard that would limit future development. Soterion was asked – but not required – to acquire the easement. That didn’t happen.

Instead, Kentucky added the easement after buying the property in 2012 for more than $5 million over the prior sale price and $1.5 million more than its own appraisal said it was worth.

The state then agreed to lease Drumanard back to Soterion, a medical imaging business that occupied the house until it was evicted for not paying rent in 2014. Created in 1993, Soterion was dissolved by the Indiana Secretary of State that same year for failing to file required reports.

The Transportation Cabinet claims it is owed $34,516 in unpaid Jefferson County property taxes and $21,600 in late rent.

In court papers, Soterion has said it “did not receive proper and timely notice of such taxes due.”

Meanwhile, Kentucky has paid more than $347,000 to maintain and repair the property. The state is seeking to sell Drumanard in November for at least $3.5 million.

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