Casco buys lot after owner cleans up liens

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — For the past three weeks, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has indirectly brought the purchase of land approved by Casco voters to a snail’s pace.

The transfer of ownership of a one-acre lot has been held up by liens attached to the deed. The Town of Casco is in the process of purchasing the parcel from James and Mary Jabbusch.

“There were some snafus with the title of the property,” Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said.

“The values of the liens are in the excess of the value of the property. There are a lot of little liens but there is a large one from IRS. All the liens will be resolved before the closing of the property,” Morton said.

On Monday, the town closed on the property purchase, according to Casco Chairman Holly Hancock.

“The former owner resolved the liens,” Hancock said during a phone interview on Wednesday. Also, the town purchased title insurance, she said.

During a Special Town Meeting on Aug. 18, Casco voters approved the purchase of an acre of land for $79,000. The land is adjacent to the town-owned lot on Meadow Road, where the fire station is located and where the “temporary” town hall is situated. The acre being sold to the town has roadside frontage.

As pointed out by Selectman Grant Plummer during a Casco board of Selectmen meeting on Sept. 22, the amount owed to the IRS and other entities exceeded the cost of the property.

Also, it should be noted the liens are for the entire piece of land, extending beyond the acre that the town is in the process of purchasing.

The lien-related debts are certainly a monetary burden that the town would not want to be saddled with when it takes ownership of the land, board members agreed.

However, there is a safety net, Morton said. “Title insurance can protect the town from things that they have discovered, and not just ones undiscovered,” he said.

In his communication with the title insurance company, the company would either pay off the liens after the sale or take the lienholders to court, Morton said.

Selectmen recommended getting that guarantee in writing from the title company.

Selectman Tom Peaslee said the seller should have been more forthcoming about any known liens on the property.

For the time being, the town hall designs have been put on hold.

“It has been a while because we have been bogged down with title research on the property,” Morton said.

“The staff has looked at the floor plans. We put together a new drawing and sent it” to Sebago Technics, he said.

“Grant (Plummer) has been in touch with people on the heating and electrical aspects of the building so we can get ready to put the project out to bid,” Morton said. Although it is definitely on the horizon, it could be a month or two before the site plan for the new town hall is on the Casco Planning Board’s agenda, he said.

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