GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 29, 2012

Town closing in on Conomo Point deals

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — ESSEX — As the year comes to a close, town officials hope to be wrapping up purchase-and-sale agreements with residents of southern Conomo Point as well.

The Board of Selectmen hopes to sign off on 34 of the 39 properties in the southern portion of the Point by the end of January, said Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki. A total of 14 properties have been sold so far, with residents who have been leasing the town-owned sites getting the chance to acquire the houses. Zubricki said he expects another 9 to be signed off on before the year ends.

If 34 purchase and sale agreements are signed off on, the town will receive approximately $7 million; if all 39 are sold, the town can expect about $7.8 million, Zubricki said. The purchase and sale agreements were expected to be completed already, but extensions were granted to allow buyers to finalize agreements.

While Zubricki said the last of the agreements are expected at the end of January, he said the Board of Selectmen will always consider each agreement on a case-by-case basis.

Although the last of the purchase and sale agreements are making their way in front of the Board of Selectmen, some Conomo Point residents did not have such an easy experience with the agreements.

Ida Doane, a Conomo Point property owner, said she had some issues with the agreement and deed.

The Selectmen, who are also the Conomo Point Commissioners, signed off on Doane’s purchase and sale agreement earlier this month, but within the deed — not the purchase and sale agreement itself — lies a seasonality clause which states the property will remain seasonal for 200 years.

Only after 200 years have passed, will anyone be allowed to live there full time, more than four months out of the year.

Doane said she has questioned the clause and brought up the issue to Zubricki and Katharine Klein, the town’s representative from its Boston-based law firm of Kopleman and Paige.

Other residents have had trouble financing their purchase and sale agreements.

Richard Tofuri, a 71-year-old Conomo Point resident, said he has had trouble financing his purchase and sale agreement, but that the town offered him a financing arrangement.

Tofuri said he would need $191,000 to match the property price tag and buy the property. To better work with Tofuri and others in the same situation, town officials granted him a loan.

Tofuri put down a deposit of $2,500 and must pay $549.79 — his interest on the loan — as a monthly installment.

Zubricki said the deal, which was offered to two other elderly residents, was in the best interest of the town and residents of Conomo Point.

“The selectmen extended the offer for town financing only to those who were elderly with the sole residences being on Conomo Point,” he wrote in an email to the Times. “As such, the parties were free to choose whether they wanted to have all but the individual, elderly residents taken off of the leases in order to take advantage of the selectmen’s offer.”

Tofuri said he did have an offer on the house at one point, but the buyer backed out sooner rather than later.

“They didn’t want to get involved in any of this,” he said.

Tofuri said lawsuits about bridge leases, home ownership, seasonality use and state septic regulations complicated the selling process.

“I asked for an extension on my bridge lease, rather than financing to buy the house outright,” he said. “My request was denied.” His bridge lease for 2012, he said, was about $5,333.

The town’s website cites Massachusetts General Law Chapter 44, Sections 7,8, and 63, with a majority of the sections indicating that the town can use the funds to restore town fixtures, improvements and infrastructure.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.