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Town takes ownership of wooded lots

By Marcia Pobzeznik

Correspondent

The town has taken control of 20 wooded parcels off Crandall Road after no bids were made during the annual tax sale. The town now has tax title to the land, most of which is not accessible by a road and range in size from 0.05 acres to 5 acres.

The tax sale is held each year to try to collect property taxes that are two years in arrears.

As soon as the three houses on the list of 23 properties were sold last Friday morning, the few dozen people in the audience left the room. Despite no bidders in attendance, those conducting the sale still had to read off the rest of the parcels.

Tax Collector Toni Lyn McGowan said 170 properties were on the initial list that was compiled in July. Owners were notified by certified letter 90 days before the sale that their property could be sold if they didn't pay the taxes owed to the town by the start of the sale at 10 a.m. on Nov. 3.

The amount owed the town on those 170

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properties was $274,000. By the time of the sale, just 23 were left on the list with a total of $30,000 in unpaid taxes, McGowan said.

At Town Hall, 34 bidders were in the audience, all of whom were interested in the three houses on the list. Taxes owed on them ranged between $6,657 and $10,757.

Winning bidders are those who bid the lowest percentage for a property, so someone bidding 1 percent of a property will win the bid. They must pay the taxes due to bring them current, which is some 2.5 years worth, said McGowan, and in return they will make at least 10 percent interest on their money.

Properties bought at tax sale can be redeemed within a year by the property owner who has to pay the winning bidder the taxes plus 10 percent for the first six months after the sale, and 1 percent additional each month after that.

Homes are most always redeemed, McGowan said.

“It's better than the banks,” she said of the interest rate the winning bidders get back after several months or up to a year.

If after a year the property owner does not redeem the property, the winning bidder can petition to foreclose on the property.

The 20 parcels of woodland the town now has tax title to include three 5-acre parcels on Brayton Road owned by the same person, each valued at $14,100 with a total tax due of $3,945. There are 16 parcels ranging in size from .05 acres to .96 acres in what is called Stafford Heights. More than 700 small lots on both sides of Crandall Road comprised Stafford Heights which were used as wood lots, none of them big enough to build on. Over the years, since the plan was first recorded in 1901, many were cobbled together and some houses were built on them. But as has happened many times before, many of the lots end up at tax sale.

The 16 lots, owned by the same family, are assessed at between $3,100 and $50,900, according to town records. Total tax due on the parcels is $25,696. The town also now has tax title to one lot in the same area owned by another resident.

If the wooded parcels are not redeemed by the owners in a year, McGowan said anyone interested in paying the taxes owed can have the property assigned to them and proceed to foreclose.

Tiverton@NewportRI.com

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