NAUGATUCK — Two vacant properties mean more open space for the borough and possibly more property for some residents.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses voted Tuesday night to accept the conveyance of two properties off of Rubber Avenue Extension in lieu of payment of back taxes. Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess abstained since the property owners were previous clients of his law firm.
The two properties, which are 4.63 acres and 4.47 acres, are owned by the now-defunct development company Valley Associates Inc. The borough is owed about $3,500 in back taxes on both parcels, Tax Collector James Goggin said.
The properties were originally deeded to the borough 13 years ago for open space by Valley Associates Inc. as part of its completion of the subdivision on Brighton Road and Coventry Lane, Hess explained.
However, at the time, the borough did not accept the properties and the no-longer-existent developer has been receiving a tax bill on the property every year.
“They really don’t have any value because you can’t build on them,” Goggin said. “They never should have made it onto the tax rolls. They were left as open space in Planning and Zoning and everywhere else.”
The properties were discovered as part of Hess’ plan to find and deal with remnant properties that the borough has either forgotten about or didn’t know about.
The plan is for the 4.63 acre parcel of property to be added to the Gunntown Passive Park and Nature Preserve, which it abuts.
“The reality is that the taxes never will be paid. It seems like a good use of that particular piece of property,” Hess said.
What will happen to the 4.47 acre parcel is to be determined.
Hess suggested that the parcel, which runs behind properties on Brighton Road and Coventry Lane, be divided up amongst the bordering property owners. This would give residents a larger piece of property and give the borough a way to collect taxes on the property, Hess said.
Hess said people have already been using the property since the borough hasn’t done anything with it in over a decade.
Burgess Rocky Vitale contended the residents would want to pay taxes on property they are already using for free.
“If I was the property owner I would be saying ‘heck, I’ve been using this all these years. I am not paying anything. Why do I want it,’” Vitale said.
Hess said if the property owners don’t want to accept the additional land the borough would look into other uses for it.
Goggin suggested talking with the Naugatuck Land Trust.
“It could be the rest stop on the way to Gunntown,” Goggin said.
Burgess Carl Herb was concerned that the residents whose land borders the property that will be absorbed into Gunntown Park will be upset when other properties were given more land.
“We are going to have the people on that side say why didn’t we give them that land. This giving isn’t a good thing,” Herb said.
Goggin said he believes the residents will be pleased with the property being given to Gunntown Park rather than added to their property.
“They know it will remain vacant from now on and now it’s not added to their assessments. They got the best of everything,” Goggin said.
Goggin called the move to do something with these properties a “tremendous idea.”
“I think sending them a tax bill every year … is a ludicrous exercise,” Goggin said. “If we can get these things off the tax rolls, it’s a huge step.”