GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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August 2, 2011

Conomo Point: Whose houses are they?

ESSEX — You wouldn't think it would take all of 99 years to work out a new lease agreement between the town and about 100 householders on Conomo Point.

But a "renewal" of leases is now coming down to the wire.

Representatives of an appraisal company are scheduled to begin appraising the homes on Conomo Point for their "fair market value" on Monday, Aug. 8. And all leases are scheduled to expire Dec. 31, so "bridge leases" are being put into place until plans for the area are finalized, probably within several years.

But the approaching date has brought up a touchy point: Who owns the houses?

It is generally agreed here that the town owns the approximately 100 parcels in the area. But town officials recently reiterated their belief that the town owns the houses as well — and that notion is not sitting well with some dwellers.

"The Conomo leaseholders as a group disagree with the town's contention that the town owns the houses," said Paul Collins, who is treasurer of the Conomo Point Association and is acting as a spokesman for the leaseholders.

"We are not considering litigation at this point," Collins said, "We are meeting with town officials and will continue to do so. We hope to come to an agreement on this because it's a central issue as we begin to deal with the creation of bridge leases."

On July 21, Selectmen's Chairman Jeffrey D. Jones sent a letter to many Point residents stating that appraisers from the Tyburski Appraisal Corp. would be contacting them so appraisers could enter their residences to appraise the homes.

The appraisal will be used to determine the fair-market value of the bridge leases that householders will be offered. The appraisals will be used to set rental rates, and are not for sales purposes, town officials say.)

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