GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

June 18, 2013

Essex knocks down Conomo Point cottage

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — With the demolition of a vacant house late last week, plans are moving forward for the ultimate sale of Beach Circle and Robbins Island Road.

The tear-down of the cottage at 5 Beach Circle, formerly leased by John and Kristine True, is one of the town’s first steps into improving Robbins Island Road and Beach Circle, known as central Conomo Point.

Annual Town Meeting agreed to allow the areas to be subdivided, which will lead to their eventual sale, possibly to leaseholders.

The town had a few reasons for demolishing the home, according to Selectmen Chairman Jeffrey Jones.

Jones said part of the house, which lies on town-owned land, jutted onto private property.

“We had to rectify that,” he said.

The leaseholders also owed back taxes as well as rent; Conomo Point residents pay both to the town.

Virginia Boutchie, the town’s tax collector, said there is about $11,768 in back taxes owed to the town. Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki would not divulge how much the town is owed in rent.

The house itself had seen better days.

“It was pretty dilapidated,” Jones said.

The Trues, who opted out of renewing their lease on the Beach Circle property, live on a different seasonal property at Conomo Point.

Kristine True did not wish to comment for the story.

According to the most recent Essex assessing records, the town-owned land measures nearly a tenth of an acre and is valued at $596,000; the house that once sat on top of it was worth $130,800.

It was sold to the Trues in 2004 for $1.24 million.

Which party — the town or the tenants — owns the homes on central Conomo Point is the subject of multiple lawsuits facing the town; others include the increasing bridge lease rates and appraisal rates.

One resident brought concerns about the legality of the bridge lease rates to the state Inspector General in February.

The town’s plan opts to sell off the central area on Conomo Point as there is little beach front; plans are also in place to either raze or relocate properties or redefine what a bedroom is to meet a state Department of Environmental Protection ruling that sets a limit on wastewater flow. A state mandates limits wastewater on Conomo Point to 10,000 gallons per day.

The town is drafting a subdivision plan, which will make its way to the Planning Board once completed.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.