Friday, April 29, 2016

A Recycling Works truck drops a load of scrap wood at the old VIM plant on Sept. 24, 2010. The scrap will be ground into mulch when the plant resumes operation. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) (AP)

VIM Recycling, a waste-wood recycling facility, dumps wood chip into a mulching machine on April 14, 2011. (Truth Photo By Adrienne Barnett) (AP)

Stacey Petrovas, co-owner of Soil Solutions, talks with the media at the start of a tour of the old VIM facility on Sept. 24, 2010. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) (AP)
Deal transferring VIM to Soil Solutions worth around $7.47 million
Posted on May 8, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

The deal transferring the old VIM Recycling plant to Soil Solutions is worth perhaps $7.47 million, factoring the value of the 15-year lease to use the land where the facility sits.

Dollar figures surrounding the July 25, 2011, deal have thus far been obscured in versions of the asset purchase agreement and lease agreement made public. But the numbers remain intact in a new court filing, shedding new light on the transaction.

According to the numbers, pertinent to the controversial wood recycling facility’s foes in their efforts to get compensation for the damages they say the operation caused:

Ÿ The purchase price for the wood grinders, bag house and other machinery at the facility totaled $3.15 million. Per the asset purchase agreement, Soil Solutions is to pay VIM $350,000 of that over 10 years, while the rest, the document indicated, was to be used to cover VIM debt and other obligations.

Ÿ The lease agreement calls for Soil Solutions to pay $288,000 per year, initially, to lease the buildings and the 35 acres where the operation sits. With a 15-year initial lease, Soil Solutions would end up paying a total of $4.32 million over the term, not figuring increases supposed to go into effect in years six and eleven.

The numbers, in documents filed in the Indiana Attorney General’s Office lawsuit against VIM in Elkhart Superior Court 1, are pertinent to that suit because of the $150,000 fine VIM owes to settle the matter, plus $2,800 in attorney fees. The AG’s office sought details of VIM’s assets and asked in late April that any payments from Soil Solutions to VIM per the $3.15 million asset purchase agreement be garnished to cover the fine.

Superior Court 1 Judge Evan Roberts granted the garnishment request on May 1, but it still remains unclear if the AG’s office will see any of the $152,800. With much of the $3.15 million apparently earmarked to cover debt, $350,000 is the only sum Soil Solutions would potentially be paying to VIM, Soil Solutions said in court papers.

Moreover, Soil Solutions said in the court papers that it anticipates compensation from VIM “in a yet-to-be-determined amount” for unspecified reasons, per terms of the purchase agreement. That compensation would eat into the $350,000.

The money Soil Solutions pays to lease the old VIM land and buildings would seem to be off-limits, at least to the AG’s office. It’s made no formal request to garnish Soil Solutions lease payments anyway.

Ken Will, the VIM operator, had controlled K.C. Industries, the firm that previously owned the VIM land and structures. But a company called Choclateyclare bought K.C. Industries on July 27, 2012. And Will — who’s maintained that debt has gobbled up revenue from the varied deals — said Tuesday, May 7, that he has no interest in Choclateyclare.

“Seeking a civil penalty against a new entity for past violations on the property is not something the state could pursue in the scenario you describe,” Bryan Corbin, the AG’s office spokesman, said in an emailed response Tuesday to an Elkhart Truth inquiry.

The attorney general’s office filed suit against VIM in Elkhart Superior Court 1 in late 2009, saying the firm illegally accepted some 15,000 cubic feet of scrap wood from area manufacturers and improperly piled it on its grounds. The $152,800 fine resulted.

Neighbors living around the Old U.S. 33 location have a separate pending suit against VIM and Soil Solutions in U.S. District Court in South Bend. They seek compensation for property damage they say the wood grinding operation caused and ask that the business be closed down.