Error In Paperwork Transfer Causing Land Battle In Cedar Lake

Wednesday, June 4th 2014, 6:41 pm
By: News 9

Deep in the southwest corner of Canadian County sits Cedar Lake, an area with only one fire station that services about 1,500 residents. A service that is now in jeopardy.

It seems there's a reason for everything. Dusty Haffner is a volunteer firefighter in Cedar Lake for a reason.

"I'm just trying to give back to the community, whatever I can to give back to others," Haffner said.

But recently, the future for his service and his station is in question without much reason at all.

"There's only two ways a human doesn't make a mistake and that's being dead or not working," Canadian County Treasurer Carolyn Leck said.

Leck recalls the timeline of events. Back in 2000, the original owners of the land, Western Sportsman Club Inc., a self-explained homeowner's association, gave a small plot of land to the county. Just large enough to get a grant for the volunteer fire station. Four years later, the county got a whole new computer system, and on the hand transfer of files, the plot of land was missed. Fast forward to now, the county has sold the land to resident and county employee, Howie Sutton, for $100 without county officials ever realizing the fire station was fully in use on that very land.

"We put it in the newspaper for three weeks, and then we have a sale at the counter," Leck said.

Leck only recalls something even close to this happening one other time. In that case, the buyer recognized the error and was refunded. This time is much different.

"I could not understand his decision at all," said Leck. "When I explained it to him, he decided to give me the name of his attorney."

Now the district attorney has filed a petition with the court against Sutton to void the sale, which keeps Haffner and his 22 fellow volunteers optimistic.

"We couldn't believe it happened," Haffner said.

While the reason Sutton purchased the land is still unknown, we have confirmed he already owns several properties around Cedar Lake.

The filed petition states the DA requests the sale be voided, because the Western Sportsman Club, Inc. was not given an opportunity to purchase the land as required by the original deed, and the county did not have the authority to sell the land. The DA also requests the court not allow Sutton to enter the property or remove any items or structures throughout the litigation process.

Sutton declined to comment and directed us to his attorneys.

They did not return our calls.