PRINCETON – A municipality is suing
over a commercial leaseholder's alleged refusal to occupy an empty
building and pay a fine based on that unoccupied status.
The city of Bluefield filed the suit
May 25 in Mercer Circuit Court against K-VA-T Food Stores Inc.,
citing violation of a leased vacant business ordinance.
On March 13, 2012, K-VA-T signed a
five-year lease with a Princeton firm to rent the former Kroger grocery
store in the Bluefield Plaza Shopping Center, containing 36,724
square feet, the suit says. Nevertheless, according to the complaint, the building remains vacant. Since the West Virginia Legislature passed a law giving
municipalities authority to establish a vacant building and property
maintenance program, Bluefield informed K-VA-T that the structure
must be inspected, according to the suit, which also says the city has assessed a fee of $1 per square foot of space.
The debt owed came due on March 3, but
K-VA-T refuses to pay and refuses to permit the required inspection
of the structure, according to the complaint.
The city of Bluefield demands judgment
in the amount of $36,724, pre- and post-judgment interest, court
costs and attorney fees, and an order that K-VA-T provide access to
inspect the building, per West Virginia and city codes. It is
represented by Brian K. Cochran of Brewster, Morhous, Cameron,
Caruth, Moore, Kersey & Stafford PLLC in Bluefield.
Mercer Circuit Court Case number