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February 16, 2013

Essex resident takes Conomo issues to IG

ESSEX — Citing conflicts with town bylaws and state legislation and claiming other inconsistencies, a town activist has filed a complaint with the state’s Office of the Inspector General regarding purchases-and-sale or installment agreements over southern Conomo Point.

Bruce Fortier, a former selectman, has alleged the current Board of Selectmen created fraudulent installment sale agreements and town officials were not authorized to sell any properties in southern Conomo Point.

While a Special Town Meeting vote in November of 2011 reflects that purchase and sale agreements are allowed, Fortier’s complaint notes there are no plans for long-term leases included in the current bylaw. The article simply states “reserved for future use,” about long term leases, he said.

Fortier’s complaint states the installment and sale agreements are simply “disguised” as long-term leases, and the Board of Selectmen had no right to make the agreements.

One installment and sale agreement, approved by Conomo Point Commissioner and selectmen, states that one resident financed a $187,500 loan through the town, where only the interest, set at 3.5 percent, would be paid back to the town. The resident is not paying back any of the principal amount loaned, only the interest, which totals roughly $6,500 annually; the agreement, approved by the selectmen in December, is scheduled for 30 years.

The installment and sale agreement also states the resident is also given a right to purchase the property for the 2012 appraisal price as long as a deposit is made. The resident is eligible to purchase the property for the length of the agreement — 30 years.

Fortier states there is no obligation on the part of the tenant to purchase the property at any time and there is no penalty for not buying, other than the deposit loss.

Fortier also argues the article that allowed the sale of 41 southern Conomo Point properties, which was approved after lengthy deliberation in the Annual Town Meeting in 2012, is fraudulent.

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