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Wrangling continues over Millers Falls properties

MILLERS FALLS — As the town moves forward with plans to split up a Millers Falls property taken for back taxes and return it to the tax rolls, officials continue to face protests from a former owner and the latest claimant to that title.

A town plan would subdivide the 26-34 East Main St. property and offer the three main buildings together or separately with a garage attachable to any of the main buildings.

The question before the Montague Board of Selectmen was whether to submit the plan to the Planning Board for its endorsement.

The town took the property from Jeanne A. Golrick last year for nonpayment of taxes amounting to $85,388 at the time of the taking.

Golrick transferred the deed to Mary F. Jackson on a promissory note about a week before the decision and now has a similar arrangement with Joseph Francis “Jay” Noone IV, or Joseph Francis IV of the Noone family, as he styles himself.

Noone has previous experience with tax-taking, having lost his Palmer home last year for non-payment of property taxes, according to Springfield newspaper The Republican.

Noone and Golrick appeared at Monday’s meeting of the Montague Board of Selectmen to protest the proposed division.

Noone told the board he intends to file a federal lawsuit under Title 42, Section 1983 of the U.S. code, which provides for a civil action for deprivation of rights.

Golrick said she was present as Noone’s creditor, and told the board and officials they would all be included in Noone’s suit, if the division went forward.

“It is all fraud, gentlemen, if you continue, my part in this ... is almost half a million dollars that I have put out, that I am owed, that is due me for this property,” Golrick said.

When time came to cut off public comment on the issue, Chairman Christopher Boutwell had a little difficulty getting Noone to stop talking. He did stop after Police Chief Charles Dodge III, present for several unrelated matters, advised him to be quiet.

The two selectmen present, Boutwell and Mark Fairbrother, voted unanimously to send the subdivision on to the Planning Board.

Noone submitted a letter signed by himself and Golrick as notice of their legal claims, which Boutwell said would be sent on to the town lawyer.

Town Administrator Frank Abbondanzio said Tuesday he had not yet had an opinion from the lawyer on the latest filings but added the town is within its legal rights and any applicants for the property should not be concerned about the property’s legal status.

“We’re doing what we’ve been told is fully within our rights to do,” Abbondanzio said.

According to state Land Court records, the case contesting foreclosure of the property is closed as of this January, with a judgment dismissing an appeal from Golrick to an earlier judgment in favor of the town.

According to the decision closing the case, the letter received from Golrick did not constitute a proper plea or motion, but even if treated as such, the request was denied and the judgment in favor of the town foreclosure made final.

The Planning Board was scheduled to consider the subdivision Tuesday evening.

Town Planner Walter Ramsey said the property division falls into the “approval not required” category, meaning it takes effect after 20 days even if the Planning Board does not sign off.

The town is looking to return the properties to the tax rolls by offering them at a token cost to applicants who have a plan to use the property, meet requirements for renovating the exterior, and have the financial backing to carry out their plans.

In the case of 34 East Main St., the future developer would also be responsible for cleanup of hazardous waste from fuel storage tanks and drums in the basement.

The Department of Environmental Protection ordered the cleanup in 2010, and in January fined Golrick as the former owner.

Wednesday, the Planning Board voted unanimously to endorse the division, according to Ramsey, and it is now official.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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