Town sells 217 Washington Ave. property for $10,000

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BENNINGTON — After being taken by the town about two years ago for non-payment of taxes, a home at 217 Washington Ave. is going back on the tax rolls.

The town sold the property for $10,000 in a no-reserve public auction on Aug. 29 to Charles Jewett and Valerie Negrete, said Stuart Hurd, town manager, who conducted the auction on the single-family home at the town office.

There was one other potential bidder present, but only Jewett placed a bid.

Jewett has put down the nonrefundable 10 percent deposit of $1,000, and the town has signed a purchase and sale agreement with Jewett and Negrete, Hurd said.

The buyer is required to close within 30 days.

"[Jewett is] fully willing to do that," Hurd said. "By the end of September, he will own the property."

In this case, the buyer is not responsible for paying delinquent taxes on the property, which total about $24,000 — seven years' worth, Hurd said. The town chose to accept the highest bid, even if it didn't cover the delinquent taxes.

"We will essentially write off the remaining debt," Hurd said.

The town acquired the property through tax sale "a long while" ago, probably in late 2017, he said.

"We took the house because it had been pretty much abandoned, and then we tried to sell it," he said. The first bid the town received, for $20,000, would have covered the delinquency at the time. But the deal fell through, he said.

Another interested party also offered $5,000 in 2018, given the house's condition at the time.

"At the time, the house was full of furniture, stuff in the refrigerator," Hurd said. "It was like, the person just walked away from it. So the second time we were offered $5,000 because the person was going to have to go in and clean it all out."

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Two outbuildings on the property were also "falling down;" the town has demolished them because they were so structurally unsafe, Hurd said.

That $5,000 offer also fell through, as there was concern about a federal lien on the property, he said. Federal liens take 18 months to expire, he said.

The town also dealt with the first bidder allowing an acquaintance of his to move into the home without the town's knowledge, he said.

The town has since had someone go in and clean the entire house, Hurd said.

"All the food in the refrigerator — everything gone," he said. "Then you could see that the structure of the house is fine. Some of the ceilings have cracks in them, things like that, but overall, the structure of the building is pretty sound."

The front and back porches are also caving in, he said.

Hurd said Jewett plans to renovate the house and bring it back to productive use.

"I'm not sure what he plans to do with it — whether he plans to rent it, sell it," he said.

When the town takes possession of a property, the property becomes tax-exempt.

The town also has to protect the building from freezing pipes and "things like that," Hurd said, as well as mow the law occasionally and make sure no one breaks in.

"It's not overly costly, but it's a pain in the neck," he said.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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