Wetland lots to stay in Casco’s hands

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A few pieces of property, which are owned by the town through tax liens, might have some conservation value, considering the land abuts or straddles wetlands.

That is the according to the recommendations of the Casco Open Space Commission (OSC), which toured the parcels recently. The commission’s objective has been to look at lots that become the property of the town through the back-tax policy. The commission highlights the parcels that could be worth keeping as opposed to those lots that the town could sell to recoup back taxes.

Basically, the OSC recommended that the town retain two lots because the parcels abut and/or include wetlands, Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said. “They are categorized as retained,” he said.

The two lots with potential conservation value are both located in a subdivision off Heath Road.

On Tuesday night, the Casco Board of Selectmen took a look at a list of recently tax-acquired properties. The board will be reviewing that list — hopefully with a little more details included — during its next meeting on Dec. 8.

The board will hold a workshop with the Open Space Commission and Casco Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Don Murphy with the objective of learning more about the wetlands.

“They haven’t had time to investigate the significance of the wetlands,” Morton said. While two of the lots might be worth preserving, other parcels are assets that could be liquidated, he said.

Following protocol, the parcels now owned by the town have been evaluated by Murphy and OSC members over the timeframe of the last few months.

According to Selectman Grant Plummer, the board is in the early stages of going through a list of tax-acquired land that could be sold through the bid process.

“The end result will be: Some properties will be coming up for sale,” Plummer said. The bottom line is that the town would prefer to have back taxes captured through the sale of the land, he said. Also, selling most of the tax-acquired property puts the land in the hands of a taxpayer, he said.

On some of these lots, the buildings are unsuitable for habitation. In fact, only squirrels would consider living there.

“The CEO recommended to remove, and don’t allow those homes to stay in Casco unless they are used for scrap metal,” Morton said.

“What worked out well for us last time is that the buyer had to remove buildings. That proved to be successful. We recovered what we had for taxes in arrears. Also, the town had no expense of” doing demolition work or hauling off debris, Morton said

 

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