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BANGOR, Maine — A council committee recommended Tuesday that the city take possession of a series of abandoned and unused lots in a continuing effort to crack down on tax-delinquent property owners.
There are some unusual parcels included in the list of five the city targeted for this round of seizures:
— 30 Katahdin St., a tiny .01-acre parcel at the end of the dead-end street. It has 9 years of outstanding taxes totaling $807 and has an assessed value of $1,400.
— 26 Stone St., another minuscule .01-acre sliver of land at the end of the street with 9 years of outstanding taxes totaling $830. The property is assessed at $1,400, and likely would be sold off to a neighboring owner.
— 17 Alden St., a vacant .05-acre plot worth about $300 with 8 years of unpaid taxes totaling $480. Little said the city would have to decide whether to retain the property or sell it to neighbors.
For perspective, .01 acres is about 435 square feet. These weird slivers of land were probably formed when nearby developers bought them up to prevent neighboring streets or building projects from encroaching on their own development, according to Assessor Ben Birch. Because the lots were so small and only served as a buffer, some owners just stopped or never started paying the small tax bill that came along with them.
55 Parker St., a 4,625-square-foot property assessed at $8,400, also has been tapped for takeover. The taxes haven’t been paid in 8 years, with more than $2,000 in payments due. Bangor’s Deputy Treasurer David Little said the lot is slightly too small to be buildable under city standards, so the land likely would be divided up and sold to abutting owners.
The outlier in terms of size is 1036 Stillwater, which could actually be large enough to serve some buildable use in the future. The 3.74-acre plot between Interstate 95 and Burlington Coat Factory has a surprisingly low assessed value of $400, considering the commercial space around it. That’s largely because it’s so far back from Stillwater Avenue and there are no known access easements to the parcel, according to Little. In 12 years, that owner has accumulated outstanding taxes to the tune of $775.
The committee tabled talks about seizing 1036 Stillwater because it wanted city officials to learn more about it. The site is near a conservation easement and some wetland area, so Councilor Jamie Gallant asked that city staff look into whether the city could recoup some of the costs, rather than writing them off.
Each of these properties has matured liens against it and the city’s attempts to obtain payment or track down owners have been unsuccessful.
The full council will decide whether to move forward with the takeovers during a future council meeting.