Huntin' Hut building now in hands of county.
An old downtown hotel is not the only piece of property in Hannibal that has required City Attorney James Lemon to be in court in recent weeks. Off and on for the past couple of years the city has been pursuing legal means in order to have something done with the Huntin’ Hut building at 1924 Market St.
That effort took a new twist recently when the property was acquired by the county trustee.
“As a result of that I have discussed the matter with the Huntin’ Hut attorney, Branson Wood, and he’s raised the point, and I think he’s probably correct for this type of action, if that corporation is no longer entitled to that property they can’t be held liable for maintaining the public nuisance,” said Lemon. “As a result the (City) Council instructed me to go ahead and dismiss the cause of action without prejudice, which means we could bring it again at a later date if it seemed appropriate.”
What happens now?
“At this point we’re going to explore alternatives,” said Lemon. “Since the county trustee is now entitled to the property the first thing we need to do is talk to the county and see what their position is on the property, and what they may be willing to do or not do. We will also probably be looking at the possibility of either trying to find out if someone wants to acquire the building to repair it or proceeding with demolition.
“It’s not something we’re going to push onto the back burner; it’s something we’re moving forward with.”
The building has been on the city’s radar since March 2010 when it was first taken before the Building Commission. In early April 2010 concern about the property increased greatly when a rear wall of the structure collapsed.
In May 2010 it looked like the city might be taken off the hook for the cost of demolition when Joey Burnham, building inspector, was contacted by someone interested in purchasing 1924 Market St. provided he would be allowed to remove the second story of the building, which was acceptable to the city. However, nothing ever evolved.
The courts became involved in June 2010 when the first hearing regarding the property was scheduled.
Ownership of the property has been a point of dispute. According to county records, the property was owned by Huntin’ Hut, Inc. The same documents indicated that Roy Miller of rural Palmyra was the “agent.”
In March 2011, counsel for the city suggested that Huntin’ Hut, Inc.’s corporate status was invalid because it had not been maintained.