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Pulaski vans issue still in limbo

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

According to Pulaski officials, the owner and registered agent for a van business on Route 11 are now only infrequently in town.

They’re no longer “where they’re listed as living and where their registered agent is listed as operating. They’ve actually left town,” Nichole Hair said of VuhVanagon LLC, which flanks Northwood Drive at the Route 11 intersection. Hair is deputy town manager and zoning administrator for Pulaski.

The matter was raised at Pulaski Town Council’s recent work session when Councilman Lane Penn asked why nothing has been done about an alleged zoning violation there.

Town Manager Shawn Utt said the town is in the process of trying to serve papers on the business. The owner has been identified in past discussion as Kevin Lindamood. According to State Corporation Commission (SCC) filings, Hannah Spongberg is the registered agent.

Spencer Rygas, town attorney, said the business representatives have to be served in person since the misdemeanor zoning violation is a “quasi-criminal” warrant. “It’s not like a civil summons; so, we’re trying to wait for him to be present so we can serve him.”

Penn asked if that means nothing can be done as long as the owner stays out of town.

Rygas said, “For now, yes. But, we’re going to look to the next phase to see what we can do. … There’s bound to be a way. If they weren’t quasi-criminal we could have served them through the state or where they are, in New York. We’re in the process, but equally-frustrated.”

Councilman Joseph Goodman asked Rygas if the registered agent isn’t required to be in Virginia since it’s a Virginia company.

“Yes, that’s part of the problem, too,” Rygas said. “We’ve researched without gaining an answer on who is the entity that enforces the fact a registered agent is supposed to be in Virginia. They’re supposed to be a member of the state bar, or a resident of the state of Virginia who is also affiliated with the entity or corporation.”

Goodman questioned whether the SCC isn’t the enforcing agent.

“I’m not saying they’re not, but I haven’t figured out a way to get them interested in the fact you have a small LLC that basically doesn’t do anything but collect cars, who has a lady whose name is on it, who doesn’t live at the address that’s there and they file something and pay a $50 fee once a year.”

He said the listed agent “might be a false statement or it might not have been a false statement at the time” she became the registered agent. “She very likely was here at that time because they had that residence right up behind the vans. At this point in time, that’s not the case. That’s just part of the technical challenge,” Rygas said.

He noted the town has had other similar situations that have resolved themselves. “Hopefully it doesn’t take that long. Just getting the service at this point has been the problem up until now.”

Rygas suggested police officers or anyone else for that matter could notify the town if activity is seen on the property.

“I’m sure it’s not a matter of ducking a simple misdemeanor case. I don’t think he would alter his travel schedule over that,” Rygas said. “Another alternative maybe would be to just call him and say, ‘Do you want to come handle this?’ We do have people who have been in touch with him in the past.”

“So, what I’m hearing is if he doesn’t come around this could linger indefinitely,” said Councilman Greg East.

“Based on what we know at this moment, that would be true,” responded Rygas. “But we’re going to look for alternative ways to address it if we can’t get him served.”

East and other council members have, in the past, referred to the business as an eye sore. They want to know what can be done to address its appearance since it’s on one of the main thoroughfares into town.

In a prior meeting East told council a real estate agent brought a couple to Pulaski to show them a house for sale, but when they saw the vans they told the agent to turn around; they didn’t want to live in Pulaski.

Chief Gary Roche said his officers have been watching for the business representatives to return to town.

“The only footprints at the property during the snow were our officers’ footprints. … He has surveillance on the place. My guess is he can access it remotely and he knows we’ve been up there trying to serve stuff.”

Councilman Jamie Radcliffe pointed out four or five of the vans are parked on the side of Greenwood Terrace without tags or inspection stickers.

“That’s an abandoned vehicle. Impound them and let him come get them; then service him,” Radcliffe said.

Roche, however, pointed out the town would have to bear the cost of storage fees on the impounded vehicles.

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