The receiver currently overseeing Fairview Memorial Park has filed a motion in Delaware County Common Pleas Court opposing Berlin Township’s earlier motion to intervene in a potential sale of the cemetery.
A.C. Strip, a Columbus attorney, was appointed to be the receiver for the cemetery, located at 5035 Columbus Pike, in May 2017, and he has been managing the cemetery’s affairs ever since. Strip has been filing regular updates with Delaware County Common Pleas Judge David Gormley and has been looking for a buyer for the cemetery since Gormley ordered that it be dissolved last fall.
On April 10, Strip filed a motion asking the court for authority to sell an entire parcel of the cemetery and one part of another parcel to the Islamic Society of Central Ohio for the sum of $130,000. According to court documents, the purchase would involve an 8.32-acre parcel as well as the “Muslim Section” of the cemetery.
“The proposed sale is in the best interest of the receivership estate and its creditors,” Strip wrote in the April 10 motion.
However, on April 23, a Motion of Interested Party was filed by Berlin Township, asking to intervene in the matter and objecting to the sale.
In the motion, Berlin Township’s attorneys, Stephen D. Brown and Christopher A. Rinehart, argue that because the cemetery is situated in Berlin Township and is not owned or in the care of an incorporated company, the township automatically has a vested interest and should have been a party in the case.
The township’s motion argues that proceeding forward with the sale and case impair the township’s interest.
“Without leave to intervene, Berlin Township loses its ability to contest the positions taken by the parties regarding the property, to which Berlin Township may well already possess title by operation of law,” Brown and Rinehart wrote in the April 23 motion.
Strip responded to the township in a motion of opposition filed on May 18. He states the township does not have the standing to object to the sale, and the intervention should be denied.
“There is no claim against the township in the case,” Strip states. “Nor does the township have a claim against the receivership estate. Whether or not the sale is approved does not materially impact Berlin Township.”
Strip went on to argue against Berlin Township’s assertion that the cemetery is not owned or in the care of an incorporated company.
“Berlin Township’s premise is that because Fairview Memorial Park, Inc. has been judicially dissolved by Order of this Court, it is no longer owned by an ‘incorporated company.’ This position is not consistent with the applicable Ohio corporate laws,” Strip states. “Dissolved corporations are corporations nonetheless, at least for a period of five years.
“… Because Berlin Township has no colorable interest in the subject property, there is no basis for its intervention at this late stage of the matter… Simply because the property sits within Berlin Township does not give rise to its intervention in this matter,” Strip states.
Strip concluded his motion by asking Gormley to deny the township’s motion.
There have been no filings in the case since May 18.
The cemetery’s owners, Theodore and Arminda Martin, were charged with felony theft in 2016 for selling items, but never delivering them at the cemetery.
Theodore and Arminda Martin were sentenced to five years and four-and-a-half years in prison, respectively, after they pleaded guilty to 14 and 15 theft charges, respectively. They were also ordered last year to pay restitution to 67 victims in the amount of more than $183,000.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.