Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 7, 2014

County officials inspect Sugar Loaf

TRAVERSE CITY -- Leelanau County officials eyed the long-vacant Sugar Loaf Resort for building and safety code violations, but they did so without a Lake Tahoe man who contends he controls the property.

County officials spent nearly four hours Wednesday inspecting the grounds, an effort prompted by complaints from neighbors who worry about building degradation and fire hazards, said Steven Haugen, the building official at the Leelanau County Construction Code Authority.

“I didn’t find many significant code violations,” Haugen said. “There are some, but the most pressing issue is the condition of the roof, which is leading to a lot of the issues.”

Haugen will issue a full report to the resort's owner by Feb. 28.

Haugen previously planned on doing the inspection alongside Eneliko “Liko” Sean Smith, a Lake Tahoe businessman who claimed to have purchased the resort, though he hasn't provided the county with proof of ownership.

Instead of touring the facility with Smith, Haugen and county administrator Chet Janik were admitted to the property by John Peppler. Janik said Peppler provided documentation proving he's the real estate agent who holds the property listing.

Peppler did not identify the resort's owner, but dismissed Smith's ownership claim.

“He has nothing to do with the property,” said Peppler, who works for Coldwell Banker Schmidt Realtors. “He’s never had an equity position.”

Both Janik and Haugen confirmed that Kate Wickstrom, the resort’s owner since 2005, is still the owner of record.

Wickstrom contends she surrendered the property back to its prior owners in March.

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