Posted 4/19/16 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
The Skywatch Inn project in Ray is sometimes referred to locally as the “hole-tel,” because it never became much more than a hole in the ground.
And now patience with the lack of progress is again running out.
“We will probably revoke their permit,” said Mike Sizemore, Development Services Director for Williams County.
Started in late 2014, the project was slated to be completed by spring of last year. After a hole was dug and roads closed off, nothing much more came of it.
As time went by, the county and City of Ray began asking questions. The developers told the officials construction would resume shortly.
“They’ve given us some lip service along the way,” Sizemore said.
Earlier this year, the Ray Commission requested representatives of the developer give a status update at a regular meeting.
The developers said some issues with their investors had delayed the project, but they intended to resolve that matter soon and would resume progress on the project.
Their building permit expired in February, but the county granted the developers an extension, which is about to run out.
Sizemore said the developers submitted new plans to the county for approval, substantially changing the project.
The permit for the new plan was denied.
“They just weren’t acceptable,” Sizemore said.
Aside from a few minor cosmetic items the city requested the developers do, nothing has happened with the project since the meeting two months ago.
Ray Public Works Director Jim Dickey said the city put down some material on a road beside the site and graded it out to reopen the road, which had been closed during much of the project construction.
The city then sent a bill to Rycal Construction, the project contractor, for the labor and materials, which came to $4,196.50.
Sizemore said the county is now looking to address the massive hole that has been sitting beside U.S. 2 for over a year now.
The hole has erosion issues that could eventually damage the highway, Sizemore said. Plus, there are safety issues with the site.
“Kids can get in there and play,” he said.
The county will simply close the site and fill in the hole with dirt. In order to pay for the remediation, the county will then need to place a lien on the property, which will cover the costs when the property is sold.
“I believe our patience has run out with them,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore said cities often have a developer’s agreement that requires the developer to put down a bond to cover the costs of remediation.
When the project went through the city’s permitting process, these agreements were not required. Learning from this and other mistakes, Ray now has these agreements in place.
A request for comment on the project status from the Skywatch Group did not yield a response before press time.