Casco resident buys back grandma’s lot
By Dawn De Busk
CASCO — Bobbi Berard was a young girl when her mom told her that a portion of the land that was part of her grandmother’s homestead would one day be hers.
Berard’s family tree extends back to the union of the Edwards and the Crockett families through marriage. Those are two prominent families in Casco’s history.
Despite her mother’s prediction, years later when Berard was living in New Hampshire and raising four children, she sold her lot to an uncle so she could pay her mortgage in the Granite State.
A few years ago, as a divorcée, she returned to the Pine Tree State. She learned that the property she once owned had fallen into foreclosure through the tax lien process. The lot is located on Connell Acres Lane, which is accessible from Mayberry Hill Road.
Earlier this year, the lot ended up on a list of tax-acquired properties that was being thoroughly reviewed by the Casco Board of Selectmen.
Actually, this spring, Berard provided a written bid for the property but the board rejected it because it was too low. The board was aiming for 40 percent of the market value plus back taxes owed.
On Dec. 6, Berard reclaimed her family’s former lot and assumed the responsibility of cleaning up the debris left behind. Her mother’s statement rang true.
During the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting, the board accepted Berard’s update to a previous bid offer. The agreed-upon amount must be paid in 90 days by March 6, 2017, and the final cleanup date was extended to May 1, 2017. The vote was 4–0. Selectman Calvin Nutting was absent.
During the discussion, the board decided that the hard and fast rule of 40 percent market value plus back taxes might be too rigid. Board members commented that looking at bids for tax-acquired lots should be on “a case-by-case basis.”
Selectman Grant Plummer explained his thought process in accepting Berard’s bid.
“In the past, we had bids and we had an auction. There was one where we came in under 40 percent minus the cost to clean it up,” he said. “This bid meets the 40-percent mark with them doing the cleanup. That is how I justify it.”
The selectmen extended the cleanup deadline to 90 days because wintertime is often a more difficult time to remove debris and trash from any piece of property.
Over the weekend, Berard and her fiancé drove out to the property and began the cleanup process. She said that they stacked like items together — giving the metal to a man who sells it for a living, burning the wood that was not pressure-treated, and taking loads of debris to the Bulky Waste Facility.
Berard said she was happy and emotional at the prospects of making a future home on the property that has so much history in her family.
Meanwhile, the selectmen really put their noses to the grindstone during their last meeting of 2016. The meeting on Dec. 6 lasted almost three hours, beginning with workshops on three topics: terms of a bond repayment, options for the Grange Hall and a ten-year plan for repairs and maintenance of area roads.
The board will forego a Dec. 20 meeting because the Casco Town Hall Open House is scheduled on that day. So, the board meets again on Jan. 10.
The board spent about a half hour going over maps and descriptions and photos of the remaining tax-acquired properties.
That evening, the list was reduced to eight properties, according to Chairman Holly Hancock.
The board has an objective of putting these tax-acquired properties out to bid sometime in the spring. Another objective is for the board members and the Open Space Commission to review the properties and make recommendations on which ones should go out to bid. The deadline for that latter goal is before Jan. 24, which is a meeting date for the selectmen. The town will supply selectmen with Google Earth maps of the parcels.