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North Adams Council OKs Land Sales to Abutters
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:18PM / Wednesday, October 26, 2022
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council endorsed the sale of a half-dozen vacant properties for 10 cents a square foot.
 
The total amount realized by the sales to abutters was $3,077; the properties together were assessed at $64,500, though those assessments likely date back before the city took them when some had buildings on them.
 
"I have been really working on focusing on getting as many parcels as we can back on the tax rolls," said Mayor Jennifer Macksey. "Our first attempt at this was to look at all the properties that we had and form an abutters sale. So these are properties that are owned by the city of North Adams."
 
The city in the past has used both abutters' sales and auctions to dispose of smaller lots of unneeded properties. Requests for proposals have been used for more significant lots and buildings, such as Notre Dame Church.
 
Macksey said the direct abutters were sent packets by certified mail listing the minimum bids of 10 cents a square foot. They had 21 days to place a bid and explain what they planned to use the property for. 
 
There were properties that did not get any bids and some that got more than one — though not meeting the minimum price, said Macksey.
 
In response to questions, Assessor Jessica Lincourt said the use of 10 cents a square foot was used the last time there was an abutters' sale in 2018. 
 
The properties are, for the most part, too small for modern building lots and were being sold as side yards and back yards.
 
Three of the lots were owned by Housing Opportunities Inc., which dissolved about seven years ago and transferred its assets, including several lots and buildings, to the city of North Adams. Among those properties is the former Sun Cleaners on River Street, which is in the process of being demolished.
 
The sale included a two-piece HOI parcel on River Street that at $1,420 went for more than $20,000 under assessed value. Northern Berkshire EMS had made an offer of $12,000 for the property in 2015 for the use of parking but had been rebuffed because of complaints by abutters.
 
All of the sales passed unanimously. Councilor Jennifer Barbeau was absent; Councilor Marie T. Harpin, who had been participating remotely for several meetings over complaints about her seating location, attended Tuesday's meeting in person. 
 
Approved for sale were:
 
Lots 21 and 21A (formerly HOI) on River Street to John and Susan Gaskell of 363 River St. for  $1,420. They are assessed at $21,800 and comprise 14,200 square feet.
 
• Lot 37 on Front Street to Elizabeth Mitchell of 44 Front St. for $266. It is assessed at $800.
 
• Lot 60 on River Street to Alyssa Sporbert of 18 Temple St. for $327. This former HOI property is assessed at $20,500.
 
• Lot 68 on Bracewell Avenue to Mark Moulton of 125-127 River St. for $523. This former HOI property is assessed at $19,700.
 
• Lots 163 and 164 on Harris Street to Stephen and Courtney Bopp of 59-61 Hathaway St. for $227 and $314, respectively. Lot 163, owned by the city since 1956, is assessed at $700 and Lot 164, owned by the city since 1917, is assessed at $1,000. 
 
In other business, 
 
• The council postponed amending the permit and license fees as the recommendations from the department heads are still being collated. The Finance Committee has been meeting with department heads to update fees that have been outdated for years. 
 
• The council authorized the police chief to appoint officers to work at the polling stations on Nov. 8 and the final election workers. 
 
• The council also set public hearings for the fiscal 2023 tax classification and installtion of a utility pole for the next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
 
• The mayor announced that the winter parking ban will go into effect on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
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