Photo Caption: Ray Croxford
In February, The Athens NEWS reported that Ray Croxford, owner of the Pine-Aire and Knollwood trailer parks in Athens County, was facing possible foreclosure on both sites because of more than $159,000 in unpaid county property taxes.
Now the county has dropped the foreclosure hammer on Croxford in connection with one of the two trailer courts and a small apartment building.
According to Athens County Treasurer Javon Kittle Cooper, Croxford is reportedly selling Knollwood to a local real-estate company, so its tax problems should be taken care of.
Bob Prebe of the Athens-based Capstone Properties, LLC, confirmed Sunday that "we're purchasing the property from Ray… We're helping him with the property taxes." Prebe said the company has been running Knollwood for about the last three months.
On the other properties, however, last week Kittle Cooper's office filed delinquent-tax foreclosure actions against Croxford, in connection with Pine-Aire near The Plains, as well as a small apartment building on Bentbrook Lane, off U.S. Rt. 50 West just outside of Athens.
State officials, meanwhile, say they now consider it unlikely that Croxford will come up with a $100,000 cash penalty he agreed to pay the Ohio EPA earlier this year. The penalty was part of a consent order he signed with the agency in connection with his promise to fix sewage problems at Knollwood.
Dan Tierney of the Ohio Attorney General's office confirmed that Croxford has not paid the $100,000, and that the state expects to take part in the county's foreclosure actions against him.
Three foreclosure actions are listed in online county court records as having been filed against Croxford Thursday, though The NEWS could obtain copies of only two of these Friday.
One identifies 42 lots in Pine-Aire Village, plus a number of mobile homes, which are allegedly behind in their property taxes by a total of almost $115,000. The trailer court is across U.S. Rt. 33 from the Johnson Road exit to The Plains
The action relating to the Bentbrook Lane property alleges that Croxford owes more than $17,000 in back property taxes on that site.
The NEWS has been unable to reach Croxford for comment despite repeated efforts to do so.
Kittle Cooper stressed once again Friday that the county filed the foreclosure actions reluctantly, and only after giving Croxford numerous opportunities to arrange to make payments on his back taxes.
"These are people's homes," she noted in February. "(Residents of these trailer parks are) some of the poorest people in Athens County – are they going to lose their homes?... You really don't want to do this, but what are you going to do?"
Allowing Croxford to continue owing a six-figure tax bill, she said at the time, is "not fair to the taxpayers; it's not fair to the other businesses; it's not fair to the other trailer courts."
Prebe of Capstone said the new company that will own Knollwood is called the Village at Rolling Hills. He said the company has brought in consultants to deal with the problems with an on-site sewage treatment facility that originally got Croxford into trouble with the state EPA, and has been in communication with the agency about the issue.
"It's actually a really nice plant," Prebe said. "It just suffered from a little neglect."