By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – A confusing, confounding situation for residents of a Tupelo apartment complex damaged by a tornado ended Monday before a planned Lee County Circuit Court appearance.
Attorneys representing Vista Ridge Apartments residents and the property’s owner agreed a court hearing wasn’t necessary to allow residents to keep belongings inside their damaged apartments for a few more weeks.
Residents of the high-end apartments just off of North Gloster Street were informed they had to move out from their apartment or risk having possessions thrown into the street days after an EF3 tornado damaged the property and other parts of the city.
“We agreed to put off the hearing because we agreed the residents would have more time to move out of the apartments,” said James Moore, an attorney for a few former Vista Ridge tenants.
Days after the tornado, Texas-based Sunridge Management Group claimed confusion with Tupelo’s code enforcement led local staff at Vista Ridge apartments to tell renters to move out. City officials say a code enforcement officer placed signs on the 10 apartment buildings identifying them as unsafe but told management tenants could take a reasonable amount of time moving out.
That turned into a message that residents living in nine of the 10 buildings must leave within five days or pay May rent. Mayor Jason Shelton told Sunridge company leaders the city would support legal action against the company if anyone was forced to leave in less than 30 days.
Michael Cory, an attorney representing Pillar Income Asset Management, a Texas company that owns the apartments, said Monday the property owners never wanted anyone kicked out.
“Something happened and the management company put out some information that was not well stated or misconstrued and basically everything crazy happened at that point,” Cory said.
Currently, residents continue to live in at least one of the apartment buildings as other facilities there remain uninhabited during repairs.