EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 16, 2013

Salem delays sale of town properties

By Doug Ireland
direland@eagletribune.com

---- — SALEM — The town is looking to sell some of its unwanted property, but concerns about bidding procedures and a need for voter approval have put two possible sales on hold.

Selectmen have decided to consult with the town’s lawyer before voting to authorize the sale of properties on Dennison and Brentwood avenues.

Town Manager Keith Hickey asked selectmen for their permission at the board’s meeting Monday, but they were concerned about violating regulations for the sale of town property, according to Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride Jr.

Selectmen can authorize sales of property for less than $10,000. Property sold for more than that would have to approved by voters at Town Meeting, McBride said.

That was the case in March when Salem residents voted to allow the town to sell the former Mary Foss School, assessed at $410,000, according to town records.

But selectmen were concerned they could be violating their ordinance if bidding at public auction of town property rose above $10,000 and the property was sold at that price, McBride said.

“We’re trying to find out from legal counsel if the bids for those properties go over $10,000, can we still sell it?” McBride said.

Town attorney Gordon Graham is to report his findings to the board before it proceeds further.

Both properties are less than an acre and assessed at less than $5,000, McBride said.

They are just two of approximately two dozen properties the town has been interested in selling. Last fall, Hickey told selectmen he wanted to put the properties back on the town tax rolls to generate revenue.

In some cases, the properties were donated to the town decades ago. In other cases, the land was seized for nonpayment of taxes.

The two properties considered by selectmen this week would be sold to abutters to extend their land.

Paul Gallo of 6 Dennison Ave. wants to buy the land at 8 Dennison Ave. It’s assessed at $4,600.

Matthew Doyle would like to buy the property off Brentwood Avenue. That land is assessed at $3,200.