NEWFANE — After more than a year since Berkshire Bank foreclosed several key establishments owned by the Hermitage Club, attorneys from the bank are looking to hold an auction this summer.
But questions about a vendor's property and club members' ownership in a chairlift need to be answered before Judge Robert Gerety can issue an order to trigger the process. On Tuesday, he ordered the parties to enter mediation within 45 days.
"There's a lot that needs to get done," said Elizabeth Glynn, attorney for Berkshire Bank.
Her goal is to have a sale in August. She said it would be "good" for creditors and the Deerfield Valley.
Berkshire Bank foreclosed the Hermitage's
private ski resort at Haystack Mountain, golf course, several inns and townhouses in February 2018 after the group defaulted on more than
$17 million in loans. A status conference was scheduled Tuesday to take up different motions within the case.
The bank has sought a protective order from Reinhart Foodservice LLC, which wants to look around Hermitage properties to see what kitchen equipment and items it may be entitled to keep or sell. The group has about $1.6 million in judgements against Hermitage entities.
"We tried our best invoicing to keep things straight," said Reinhart's attorney Adam Mordecai, suggesting the Hermitage kept accounting "deliberately obscure."
"I'm shocked," Glynn said with a facetious tone.
She said if a site visit needs to be scheduled, it would be added to receivership costs. In June 2018, the court appointed a receiver to preserve the values of the foreclosed properties until they are sold.
Glynn told the court that Reinhart was holding up an approximately $20 million foreclosure sale.
"We all live in Vermont," she said. "We all live in ski country."
If the properties are not sold this summer, she said, the real estate will "devalue."
Gerety approved a motion for the Barnstormer Summit Lift LLC to intervene in the case. The group is now being managed by five club members who loaned money to Hermitage Inn Real Estate Holding Company LLC for the chairlift after litigation in Connecticut resulted in an agreement where Hermitage founder Jim Barnes no longer controls it.
Barnstormer wants to make sure it receives proceeds from the sale of the high-speed, bubble chairlift.
"Your honor, I think the practical solution to that is if the motion to intervene were granted, they would be in the case and you could control it," said attorney Jim Anderson, representing Berkshire Bank, which originally opposed the motion. "You can make sure that the parties are not working at cross purposes to maneuver for their own advantage, to the detriment of the other."
The parties, Anderson said, "are not working and playing well together, your honor. They need your supervision."
"We need determination of who has the priority lien," he added.
Gerety asked if a wrench would be needed to pull the chairlift from the ground.
"You would need helicopters, your honor," said Glynn.
Gerety suggested a trial could be necessary if the parties cannot resolve their issues.
"There's no way we're going to get this solved this summer," he said, later deciding to order mediation.
On Tuesday, the court did not take up a motion that would allow Barnes to remove property not subject to United State Uniform Commercial Code liens.
"I got an email from Mr. Barnes yesterday saying the issue is moot," said attorney Bob Fisher, representing Hermitage entities and founder Jim Barnes.
No objections were made to the judge's acceptance of the receiver's fifth report, which was filed last week. It says a no-trespass order against Barnes was requested after he removed snowmobiles he considered to be personal property from garages at the ski resort. Barnes previously said he wanted to take an excavator and a truck to sell.
Reach staff writer Chris Mays at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.