Wiscasset officials will examine pursuing foreclosure on the six Mason Station properties still on Wiscasset’s tax rolls following the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen’s Tuesday, Sept. 20 meeting. Selectmen voted 4-1 to begin the lien process on the Mason Station properties, which include the Mason Station plant, after meeting with attorney Ben Smith, of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott.
Town records will be reviewed to ensure all paperwork was filed correctly before the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen takes formal action on whether to move forward with foreclosure, Chair Judy Colby said. “We’re taking baby steps right now,” she said.
It was previously believed the town would be able to foreclose on the property, but not assume liability for its environmental cleanup until it officially took over ownership, an additional step in the foreclosure process.
Smith advised that Wiscasset would be liable for the environmental cleanup as soon as it forecloses on the properties, Colby said. Selectman Judy Flanagan voted against moving forward with the lien process out of concern over assuming the responsibility.
Smith represented Wiscasset in a lawsuit against Mason Station LLC, which established that the company owes the town about $846,000 in back taxes, and firmly established town ownership of the foreclosed lots in the 85-lot subdivision.
The town purposely avoided foreclosing on six of the 85 Mason Station LLC properties due to concern about environmental contamination on the properties.
Wiscasset is still waiting on the final report of a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment conducted on town-owned Mason Station properties to determine the steps that need to be taken to eliminate potential health and environmental risks.
The report is still under review by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Town Manager Marian Anderson said.
Wiscasset recently received and cashed a check from I. Park Wiscasset LLC for payment of the 2011 tax bills on the six Mason Station LLC properties that the town has not foreclosed on yet. Payment of the 2011 tax bill would not prevent Wiscasset from foreclosing on the properties, which still have outstanding taxes from 2012 on, Anderson said at the time.