The Manchester Board of Directors begrudgingly voted Tuesday to pay $62,000 to essentially take possession of a trio of blighted properties on Broad Street that the town had already foreclosed on for hundred of thousands in back taxes.
Known as the Nichols properties, the lots at 295, 299, and 303 Broad Street once housed automotive businesses, but the properties have long since been vacant and hundreds of thousand in back taxes and missed utility payments are due on the properties. The town foreclosed on the properties, and was the sole bidder in a foreclosure auction on the properties last winter, but the family of the Nichols estate has filed a series of appeals dragging out the foreclosure process. More than $280,000 in back taxes are owed to the town on the properties, and that is not including the most recent tax bills or missed utility payments.
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Most members of the board of directors said they did not like the idea of having to pay $62,500 to the family of the estate to resolve the matter after the properties have sat vacant for years while hundred of thousands in back taxes were amassed, but noted the current redevelopment efforts underway on Broad Street and the town's desire to fold those blighted properties to the plan.
"As everyone knows, it's prime property for the town," said Mayor Leo V. Diana, an attorney who noted that the appeals process could take several more years before finally resolved if allowed to continue. "It's painful to do, but I think it's necessary."
Cheri Pelletier, a Republican member of the board said she blamed the "process of the legal system," and said that if the town continued to fight the estate in court it would take years and would likely end up costing more than the $62,500.
"I can't in good conscious allow this to go by without approving this," Pelletier said. "There is no doubt that they can tie this up for many, many years."
In the end, the board of directors voted 7-1 to approve the settlement. John Topping, a Democrat, was the lone opposing vote.
"It's going to be great to get control of this, but I think we're just rewarding the bad behavior of the property owners," Topping said in explaining his vote.
Susan Holmes, a Republican member of the board, was absent and did not participate in the vote.