By Jacob Wheeler
Leelanau County code inspector Steve Haugen entered and inspected the lodge at Sugar Loaf on Wednesday, Feb. 5, without the presence of the long-shuttered ski resort’s owners, former owners or wanna-be owners. Realtor John Peppler, who lists Sugar Loaf for $8.7 million, accompanied Haugen, as did County administrator Chet Janek for part of the 3.5-hour tour.
Janek told the Glen Arbor Sun that the trio saw cosmetic damage, but no major sewage or water damage, as the public have long speculated. Haugen will complete his inspector’s report, and provide it to Kate Wickstrom, whom the County still considers as Sugar Loaf’s official owner, by February 28. Wickstrom says that she transferred the ownership deed to former owner (and controller of Sugar Loaf’s mortgage) Remo Polselli last March, but Polselli never filed the deed with Leelanau County. As of 9 a.m this morning the deed still had not changed, according to Janek.
Janek added that condemnation of the building could be a long way off, and early indications do not indicate that the lodge needs to be bulldozed. The Sun has not yet spoken with Haugen about the inspection.
Haugen had planned to inspect Sugar Loaf this week, “with or without the owner’s permission”, but Janek said that Peppler’s presence made the County officials’ job easier. Peppler told the Sun he was there representing “the owner” but wouldn’t specify who he meant by that. Liko Smith has boasted since late September that he owns the resort, but has offered no evidence to back that claim.
Smith failed to appear last Friday for a planned inspection. Had he done so, the enigmatic former Samoan boxer and convicted felon may have faced arrest. Smith has an extraditable warrant out for his arrest from El Dorado County, Calif. Leelanau County’s undersheriff waited at Sugar Loaf at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, just in case Liko Smith showed up.
Asked whether he had any reason for optimism that Sugar Loaf would sell or one day re-open to skiers, Peppler joked, “I work on commission, so I must be an optimist.”
Stay tuned for more updates on Sugar Loaf.