July 09, 2020

Town tries to avoid foreclosing properties

EAST MILLINOCKET – Town officials are working with two property occupants to see whether the town can avoid finishing foreclosure proceedings and taking three houses on Grove, Spring and Park streets, an official said Tuesday.

Administrative assistant Shirley Tapley said the town owns 13 Grove St., 16 Spring St. and 82 Park St. after foreclosure procedures effective April 8. But because of a decision by the Board of Selectmen, a tenant at 16 Spring St. and former owner living at 13 Grove St. will have 30 days to buy back the properties for anything owed the town, Tapley said.

The selectmen opted to give the residents a 30-day right of redemption on the properties.

“The board is thinking they do not want to take any property unless they absolutely have to,” Tapley said.

Foreclosures are relatively rare in East Millinocket. These proceedings were the first Tapley said she could find in town records.

“It’s been a long time since they have acquired property,” she said. “This is a first. There is no past practice here.”

The tenant and former homeowner were notified officially of the foreclosure Tuesday.

The board agreed during a meeting April 11 that the bid process should be used to dispose of the properties. Board members said that all taxes owed, sewer and water bills, legal fees and documentation-mailing fees will be included in the minimum bids.

Maine Municipal Association attorneys told the town that residents can remain in the occupied properties until the land is sold. Once that happens, the tenants become the new landowners’ responsibility.

Town officials also are working to extend the town’s insurance umbrella over the properties.

In other town news:

. The board voted 4-0 to allow residents to vote on whether to spend $7,000 for a new trench box, a safety device that keeps workers doing trench work safe from cave-ins.

Tapley told the board the waterworks board needs to approve the expenditure of $7,000 from the waterworks reserve account for its portion of the $14,000 expenditure.

The Public Works Department’s $7,000 portion will need voter approval at the annual town meeting, which will be held on May 17. If the voters approve raising $7,000 from taxation, the additional $7,000 will be needed from the waterworks reserve account.

. The Public Works Department’s spring cleanup began Monday and will run to Friday before resuming next Monday, though Selectman Richard Stratton tried to get crews started last week.

He said that crews not otherwise occupied should start work on leaves and other debris already at curbside and other board members agreed.

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