Crystal River council member Alex Ilnyckyj owns property that apparently was condemned several years ago. Officials are trying to resolve its status because he operates a business there.
The city is investigating whether council member Alex Ilnyckyj is running his recycling business on a condemned piece of property off 11th Street.
County records show that Ilnyckyj owns the property, which had a condemned status as recently as 1995, the year he agreed to buy the land from Adamek Builders Supply, a company based in Pinellas Park.
In response to an informal complaint by council member Ed Tolle, city Building and Zoning official Walter Brown is investigating whether the original cause of the condemnation has ever been resolved.
"It was an open case," Brown said Friday. "I'm just waiting to see if it's been abated."
As a rule, businesses cannot operate on a condemned property, Brown said. But unless a business poses an immediate health or safety threat, he said the city tries to work with owners in fixing outstanding problems while allowing them to stay open.
Ilnyckyj, who operates ACRS Enterprises Inc. at the site, could not be reached for comment.
Since Tolle's complaint on Thursday, Brown has been attempting to compile any documentation related to the case. So far, after reviewing the city's file and contacting County Fire Prevention Coordinator Ken Clamer, he said there are fewer than 10 pages to show for his effort .
What does exist indicates that in 1993 and 1994, Adamek was being told to fix a "nuisance" structure on the property, even by removing it.
In September 1993, then-Deputy Fire Marshal John Russo wrote Adamek a letter giving the company 90 days to comply with city code and remove an "unsafe/abandoned" structure. By March 1994, the city was ready to take action, according to a strongly worded letter from former Crystal River building inspector and code enforcement officer James Wolfe.
The document trail becomes less than airtight at this point, Brown said. A copy of a red tag notice found does not specifically list Adamek as the guilty party, even though the document is dated March 30, 1994, a day after the city's warning letter was issued.
But a contract for deed that Ilnyckyj signed to buy the property from Adamek in 1995 acknowledges the property had been condemned by Crystal River. A contract for deed is similar to a mortgage but reflects a direct deal between buyer and seller, cutting out the middleman, such as a bank.
Ilnyckyj agreed to buy the property for $75,000, and no county records appear showing that full title of the land has been transferred to him. County records show that ACRS has been paying taxes on the property and is up-to-date with its tax bills.
Brown said he would not be inspecting the property until next week. At that time, he said he not only will be attempting to confirm the status of the condemnation but that he also will be looking for any code violations.
Brown said he has been in contact with Ilnyckyj, whom he described as cooperative in trying to locate the necessary documents.
Tolle said Friday he has no regrets about bringing his concerns to Brown, which stemmed from complaints he said he received from other people. The act also earned him an angry, late-afternoon call from Ilnyckyj, he said.
"Do I think I jumped the gun? Not at all," he said. "My main question about it, and it has been from the start, has the property been condemned and, if so, why is he being allowed to operate on the property?
"They (the buildings) have the appearance of being awfully unkempt, and it looks like the roofs are bad and the lumber looks very weak."
A visit to the property Friday revealed many kinds of scrap metals in various piles, along with used cars, newspaper stacks and wood, among other objects. Parts of the roof support in the main building clearly sagged but there were signs of significant repair work to the roof and truss.