Settlement could mitigate fees incurred by former St. Elizabeth Hospital property owner

With the Hannibal City Council likely taking up a rezoning request from developers interested in converting into senior housing a part of the former healthcare complex on Virginia Street, the city’s complaint against the site’s current owner, Steve Owsley, has not gone away, at least yet.

During a June 19 hearing before Tenth Circuit Court Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd, a follow-up hearing was scheduled on Aug. 21. However, that hearing never occurred, according to James Lemon, city attorney.

“For some reason it did not make it to the docket,” he said. “However, as Mr. Owsley tendered an offer to the city that morning, we decided to see if the Council would accept it and then report back to the judge, rather than ask the judge to make a formal ruling that morning.”

While a settlement proposal has been made, Lemon is quick to note it “has not been approved by the Council.”

Without offering any predictions regarding the Council’s reaction to Owsley’s proposal, Lemon indicated he doesn’t foresee it agreeing to anything that shortchanges taxpayers.

“I’m very comfortable in saying that the Council is not going to accept an offer unless they believe it is in the best interests of the citizens of Hannibal,” he said.

According to the city collector’s office, Owsley owes the city right at $5,000 in fees stemming from the manpower and materials that were necessary for Street Department personnel to seal the first floor doors and windows of the former St. Elizabeth Hospital late last year, and to keep the property mowed.

A status conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, in the Circuit Court Room of the Marion County Courthouse in Hannibal.

In June, Judge Shepherd granted 60 days in which to resolve an asbestos issue that was discovered within the Virginia Street property during inspections by the prospective buyer.

On Aug. 17, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the property be rezoned from local business to multiple family.

A public hearing on the rezoning request for 109 Virginia St. is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, in council chambers at City Hall. The matter could also appear on the Council’s agenda that same night.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com