Stonington Borough, CT
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WESTERLY — The former Bradford Dyeing Association property, owned by BPF Realty LLC, is one of 18 properties that will be sold at auction at a town tax sale on Tuesday.
Nick Griseto, owner of the 6.1-acre textile mill property at 460 Bradford Road, owes over $104,000 in back taxes to the town, according to Kathy Damicis, tax collector. The $1.7 million property, built in 1911 and sold by the Bradford Dye Association to BPF Realty in 2005, was initially on a list of properties to be sold at a tax sale in November. But a last-minute payment plan was set up for the taxes, which totaled $102,827 at that time, and the property was removed from the auction list.
Since entering a payment plan before the Nov. 19 sale, Damicis said the town has not received a single payment. “We haven’t heard a word from them in at least six months,” she said.
Griseto did not respond to several inquiries for comment by press time.
Other properties up for sale on Tuesday include Sandy’s Lighthouse on Atlantic Avenue, which has an assessed value of about $1.6 million. Owners Donald, Sandra and Michael Daggett, who could not be reached for comment, owe just over $18,000 in back taxes on the property, Damicis said.
Lots on Winnapaug Road owned by Barbara Stillman and Jason Palazzola, estimated at $18,900 in value, are also listed as owing about $6,000 in back taxes to the town.
Stillman said she was unaware that taxes were owed on the property, and planned to pay them before the sale on Tuesday, explaining that in trying to rebuild and recover after Superstorm Sandy, she simply overlooked the payments.
“I’m going to go to Town Hall by the end of the week and get that paid,” she said on Thursday.
As of Friday afternoon, however, Damicis reported that no payments had been made on the property.
Late-night TV talk show host Conan O’Brien’s property on Avondale Road, valued at $722,900, was taken off the list after he paid the $8,000 owed to the town Friday morning.
In a statement issued by O’Brien’s publicist, Drew Shane, O’Brien explained that he was unaware that he owed money on the property.
“Due to a clerical error as a result of my accounting firm in Los Angeles moving offices, we have never received any notice about this tax bill,” he wrote in an email.
The decision to hold a tax sale was made by former Finance Director Jim Lathrop as a way to follow up on the tax sale held in November, ensuring that property owners who entered into payment plans held true to their agreements, explained Michelle Buck, town manager.
“It’s a way to ensure compliance from the people that were initially on the list in November,” she said, noting that property owners who defaulted on their payment plans, including Griseto, would have to pay their outstanding taxes in full or else the property would be sold.
Buck also said that while the town plans to implement future tax sales on a consistent basis, she did not anticipate another one being scheduled for three to five years.
“It’s going to become a consistent practice, but certainly not on a yearly basis,” she said.
The November tax sale was the town’s first since 2008, with more than $450,000 owed in back taxes on town properties at that time. Some of the bills dated back to the time of the last tax sale. As of Thursday morning, Damicis said the town hoped to collect about $280,000 in taxes from the sale on Tuesday.
At the auction, winning bidders will be asked to pay the overdue taxes and other outstanding fees, with initial property sales offered at 100 percent ownership. As bids continue, the ownership percentage will be reduced, with the offer for the lowest possible percentage of ownership — while still including the town debt — being given the tax deeds.
Original property owners have up to one year to pay overdue taxes and penalties to the winning bidder to reclaim their properties.
The tax sale will be held on June 24 at Town Hall at 10 a.m. A list of all properties being sold is posted online on the town website.