The city of Toledo handled a complaint over the weekend involving water being pumped from the basement of the shuttered downtown Nicholas Building into a storm-sewer catch basin on Huron Street.
According to city documents, Koray Ergur, the owner of the building, was cited by the Division of Environmental Services on Sunday after an inspector saw him discharging water into the city storm sewer.
The 17-story building, at 608 Madison Ave., closed in 2009 after the electricity was shut off because of unpaid bills, and groundwater collected in the basement because the pumps that had kept it dry had gone idle.
Tim Murphy, commissioner of environmental services, said the Toledo’s municipal code prohibits putting anything other than naturally occurring rain or snow melt into the storm-sewer system.
Mr. Murphy said the inspector who investigated the violation doesn’t know how many gallons of water went into the sewer or when the building owner began the pumping operation.
“We didn’t get the complaint until Sunday.” he said.
Tracy Henderson, an attorney who represents Mr. Ergur in a foreclosure complaint on the nearby Spitzer Building, said his client didn’t know that it is illegal to discharge water in the sewer.
“He was trying to make repairs to the buildings. If he did it wrong then he apologizes,” she said. “He is trying to clean up a mess.”
Mr. Murphy said the inspector instructed Mr. Ergur to dump water from the basement into the sanitary-sewer system in the building.
Mr. Ergur also was told to respond to the city within seven days with a plan on how he would remove water from the basement without discharging it into the storm sewer if the basement floods in the future.
“Anytime something like this happens we are going to respond to it and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Mr. Murphy said.
The building, which Mr. Ergur purchased in 2009, was scheduled to be sold in July at a sheriff's sale for failing to pay back property taxes.
However, Mr. Ergur showed up at the Lucas County Auditor's office a day before the auction and paid off the $226,129 debt and court costs associated with the lengthy foreclosure action.
Weeks earlier, Mr, Ergur, as head of his EPE Spitzer Building Co., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in California citing debts of $11.2 million and unspecified assets of between $100,000 and $500,000.
The Spitzer Building, at 520 Madison, which Mr. Ergur bought in April, 2009, is in foreclosure and is scheduled for a sheriff's sale on Nov. 7.
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