The fate of a derelict property that has been an ongoing issue for Newbury Village and the town’s select board bubbled up at a recent board meeting.
The board was asked what the total amount of fines and fees the property had accrued and if the town would consider reducing the total amount.
The property in question is a historic residence in the heart of Newbury Village, just north of the Newbury Congregational Church and across Route 5 from Tenney Memorial Library. It owes the town, by town officials’ calculations, $80,390.
According to select board chair Alma Roystan, the property was foreclosed on several years ago by a mortgage company out of Florida. The residents, at the time, moved out of the house upon foreclosure when the power and water was shut off, but continued to live on the property in a large RV. Newbury zoning bylaws allow an occupied RV for a limited amount of time without a permit and once that allotted time had passed the zoning administrator started fining the property on a daily basis.
“This has been an ongoing problem,” said Roystan.
In addition, the property had a significant amount of trash on the property, including junk cars, a trailer, a toilet sitting near the sidewalk, and more. Roystan said a change in state law allowed the town to start issuing daily fines for solid waste violations, which the town started last year.
“The whole yard was full of stuff,” said Roystan.
Roystan said the bank, which owned the property, didn’t respond to the town at first, but the daily waste fines seemed to get its attention. The bank evicted the people last year and began cleaning up the property just before winter.
Roystan said the property saw some significant improvement last year and it is now on the market, but the board decided that the town expects full payment of the fines and may issue a lien on the property, which is now back on the market. Since the bank hired a firm to begin cleaning up the property, the town stopped issuing new violations, said Roystan.
The town is owed $67,500 for zoning violations; $9,920 for the solid waste violations; $640 in lost tax revenue which were a result of neighbors property values being lowered because of proximity to the property; $630 for enforcement officer payments; and $1,700 in legal fees.
Roystan said the town has had to deal with similar problem properties in the past, but never to the extent of the prominent property next to the church.