Port of Pasco moves to evict inactive biofuel plant

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldDecember 5, 2012 

The Port of Pasco has been given the go-ahead by Franklin County Superior Court to evict an unfinished biofuels plant.

This will be the second time the port has started to evict Green Power.

Judge Vic VanderSchoor approved the port's request for a summary judgment this week after Green Power CEO Michael Spitzauer failed to pay the port the overdue rent and did not attend the court hearing.

However, Spitzauer has told port officials and the Herald that he intends to pay his rent and would like to continue renting the property in the port's Big Pasco Industrial Park.

Spitzauer now owes the port almost $234,000, according to the summary judgment. That includes double rent for September, October and November, utility fees and the port's attorney fees.

Spitzauer's agreement with the port requires him to pay six months of rent before a lease begins. The port began requiring the prepayment because of issues in the past with late rent payments.

The port began eviction proceedings when Spitzauer failed to pay the $233,867 due Sept. 1.

Jim Toomey, the port's executive director, said it's likely the Franklin County Sheriff's Office will place locks on the Green Power building next week.

In 2010, the port placed locks on the building before a new agreement was reached with Spitzauer, Toomey said.

Ending eviction proceedings and leasing the property to Spitzauer would require approval from the port commission, Toomey said. Even so, the lease only would be good through February.

Spitzauer attended a port commission meeting Tuesday and told commissioners he would pay the port Thursday, said Port Commissioner Ron Reimann.

If he does pay Thursday, Reimann said port commissioners will need to decide how much longer they are willing to work with him.

If the port isn't paid Thursday, Reimann said he would have a difficult time approving continuing to do business with Spitzauer.

"There is only so many times that you can be assured of something and it doesn't come to fruition," he said.

At this point, the port is moving forward with eviction, Reimann said,

Port commissioners continued to lease to Spitzauer hoping he would pay off his debts, Reimann said.

However, according to the Herald's most recent check, Spitzauer has not made much progress paying off his debts, which amount to more than $20 million.

He owes money to past investors, past employees, the Department of Ecology and the Department of Labor & Industries.

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