Foreclosure Hits Burton Fox Inn
February 2, 2017 by Ann Wishart

Delinquent taxes, a divorce and nearly $1 million in debt haunt the dilapidated and deserted Burton Fox Inn at the south end of Burton Square, owned by Charles J. Imars.

Delinquent taxes, a divorce and nearly $1 million in debt haunt the dilapidated and deserted Burton Fox Inn at the south end of Burton Square, owned by Charles J. Imars.

At the end of 2016, a judgment entry for foreclosure was filed against Imars, but the owner has apparently decided to sell the property privately through a licensed auctioneer.

However, the owner of the inn has filed an appeal to the judgment entry, putting a hold on any future legal action until the court of appeals rules on the case, said Geauga County Clerk of Courts Denise Kaminski.

Geauga County Treasurer Chris Hitchcock is suing Imars, et al., for about $38,000 for delinquent real estate taxes that are in arrears and another $6,617 for assessments on the property at 14565 S. Cheshire Street in Burton Village, according to the filing.

Next in line for satisfaction is a $20,000 promissory note to Sylvia Imars, Charles’ ex wife, signed in 1996 and including 10 percent interest compounded annually.

The six-year statute of limitations was waived, so the note is still valid and Charles owes Sylvia about $131,000, mostly in interest, according to the judgment entry.

In April 2015, Sherman F. Dennison, Rebecca Dunn and E. Bruce Dunn, co-executors of the estate of George Dunn, filed a suit against Charles for promissory notes he signed in 2009.

The Dennison note was for $209,703 with 10 percent simple interest. The Dunn note was for $181,270 also including 10 percent simple interest.

As of the end of 2016, Charles owed $496,657 to Denison and $309,695 to the Dunns, the suit claims.

Interest has been accruing at the rate of $119.14 a day on the unpaid Denison note and $74.29 a day on the Dunn note since Feb. 1, 2016, according to the judgment entry.

Overall, Charles appears to owe the county and sundry others about $982,843 as well as court costs and interest that continues to accrue.

Geauga County Senior Deputy Treasurer Jennifer DeRenzo said on Jan. 30 a new law allows the owner of a property in foreclosure to arrange a private auction rather than have the process completed by the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office in a sheriff’s sale. How soon that will happen is unknown.

“We’re waiting for the dust to settle. We always get our money,” she said.

The auctioneer listed on the court papers is John Froelich, private selling officer of Ohio Real Estate Auctions LLC in Westlake, who said he is waiting on an appraisal of the property through the sheriff’s office.

The new law, House Bill 390, requires notification of the auctioneer of record within 21 days of the sheriff receiving the court’s directions, he said.

A clerk at the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office said the documents refer the ordering of an appraisal to the Geauga County Clerk of Courts, so until the sheriff’s office receives that order, the appraisal will not be scheduled.

Built about 180 years ago, the large structure has had a number of owners over the centuries, but seen little human activity in the last seven years, Burton Village Fiscal Officer Chris Paquette said last year.

Charles, who has owned the Burton Fox Inn since 2009, was told by the Geauga County Building Department in September 2016 he needed to make repairs on the inn or have it razed.

“It’s up to him,” Chief Building Official Mike Mihalisin said in 2016, adding Charles has been sent certified letters telling him to take action, but to no effect.

“The building is in disrepair. It hasn’t had any heat in it,” he said.

There is a hole in the roof, the eves are open to the weather and raccoons moved in. Sometime during the frigid winter of 2014-2015, the fire suppression system ruptured filling the basement with water,

Built on 5 acres around 1834 by James Peiffer, the building doubled as his home and the post office for the area, said Linda Mattern, a volunteer at Century Village.

The “Pioneer’s History of Geauga County” traces the inn’s origins to when a larger tract called Ye Olde Homestead was owned by Hiram Russell before Peiffer bought 5 acres, she said.

Today the parcel is 1.28 acres and has a market value of $326,600, according to the auditor’s website.

Village Councilman Tom Blair said he lived near Charles for a while.

“He was a good neighbor,” Blair said.

Blair said he can remember when the inn was a boarding house run by Millie Russell from the 1940s through the early 1960s.

“A lot of people stayed there,” he said. “I wish (the matter) would get resolved.”

A phone call to Charles’ attorney, Albert Leonetti of Cleveland Heights, was not returned.

Burton Village Fiscal Officer Chris Paquette said the village contacts Charles, when necessary, via his post office box in Burton.