By Gregg Bragg, The Island Connection Senior Staff Writer
The Town of Kiawah Island filed paperwork with the Charleston County clerk to condemn 122 Turnberry Ct. in January of this year, and offered $0 for the property. The figure was intended to elicit a reaction from the property owners who have not responded to the complaint as of May 4, according TOKI attorney Dwayne Green. Finding the property owners was chore in itself.
The initial title search suggested Jerry and Pam Silver bought the property in February, 2002 for $280,000 plus $3. Despite living there for years and an active listing in the Exchange Club phone book, Bert Waits was later identified as the person with a financial interest in the property, and may have financed the purchase. The title search resulted in the complaint being filed a second time on March 5.
The amended complaint says the action is consistent with South Carolina’s Eminent Domain Procedure Act of 1976. The civil action reads in part, “The acquisition of all structures on the property located at 122 Turnberry Court, Kiawah Island 29455 along with the right [sic] to enter and use the subject premises for any means necessary to remove any structure the condemning authority finds unfit or in violation of any up structural, health, sanitation, zoning or other applicable requirements.” The move came as a relief to several neighbors including Dee and Martin Wardle.
During an impromptu walk outside the property, the Wardles said the house has been vacant for years. Holes in rickety decking were disguised by yard debris, and both garage doors gaped at the bottom leading to speculation the parking deck had become a wildlife preserve.
They also speculated there was a hole in the roof near the chimney. Dee said she hadn’t spoken to the Silvers in three years, likes them fine, but insists the house needs to be torn down.
TOKI’s attorney said in an email to the Island Connection, “We initiated the action with the assistance of Chris Murphy as a consultant who has done over 100 condemnation actions for other municipalities. I thought it would be very helpful to associate him to make sure we avoided any land mines with the process.
“After the initial filing, we amended the complaint based on the findings in the title search which revealed a mortgage on the property. That mortgage, to Mr. Bert Waits who lives in Seabrook Island, was served and he had 30 days in which to respond from the date of service.
“The 30 day time period to answer… the amended Condemnation Notice ran on April 5. We are now in the process of filing a Notice of Default and request a hearing on the courts’ non-jury docket to get an Order of Default. The time period to get a hearing after the request, assuming neither Mr. Waits or the Silver[s] seek to contest this after the fact, is another 45-60 days which puts us at about June 5.
“Right now we are on track for a summer hearing assuming no further response or reply pleading is received. The principal mortgage amount was $280,000 and we do not know the balance remaining, but that is substantial enough that Mr. Waits would want to protect that interest if it remains unpaid.”
The Island Connection attempted to contact both parties without success.
Waits is no longer listed locally, and the residence listed for him in the complaint was sold in 2005. The local number for the Silvers has been disconnected, and the Owensville, Ohio address used by TOKI to mail the complaint didn’t include a phone number. Further inquiry revealed a Batavia, Ohio address for the Silvers and a phone number, which was also disconnected.
The next link in the chain revealed a Newport, Kentucky address but no phone number and this time, no previous/alternative addresses were listed.