Commissioners to hear from mortgage company on hook for $253,000 lien

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — An attorney representing a mortgage company on the hook for more than $250,000 in liens will ask the Indian River County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning to cut the amount to $90,000.

The attorney, Bruce Barkett, plans to tell commissioners that the mortgage company has a sale agreement for the former Lewis Barton property, located on the barrier island, which is supposed to close on Jan. 29. That sale has a purchase price of $960,000 to David Kateb, according to county records. His visit comes two weeks after County Attorney Will Collins asked commissioners to forgive all but $82,000 of the lien – an amount that would have covered the county’s investment in the code enforcement issue.

Commissioner Wesley Davis, at that time, said that if the mortgage company, City First Mortgage Co., had provided a letter of sale, he would have considered the request.

Commissioner Gary Wheeler said at the Jan. 5 meeting that he did not have a lot of sympathy for City First, explaining that the lien had been placed on the property five years before the mortgage was issued.

In a letter to County Administrator Joe Baird, Barkett wrote that a misunderstanding or a miscommunication led to no one from City First attending the Jan. 5 board meeting.

“City First’s loan to Barton has been a nightmare,” Barkett wrote, explaining that the company was forced to litigate foreclosure and other issues for more than six years and at considerable cost.

“Certainly, City First was not the wrongdoer in this debacle,” Barkett wrote later in the letter, “but is simply trying to get this property sold to a buyer who will replace the existing mess with a home which is in compliance with the law, and whose owner can begin to pay property taxes accordingly.”

The battle over the property started in the mid to late 1990s, when fines began accruing at a rate of $100 a day in 1997 for a concrete sea wall Barton attempted to build.

In 2006, the fines stopped because Hurricane Jeanne blew through, ripping off the roof and second story, forcing Barton to tear down the house.

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