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 16-C-169-D3

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