As town officials threaten to take the Bridgewater Mill Mall to tax sale, a court decision has given permission for the association to foreclose on one of the owners.
A judge denied Leo Werner’s motion for an injunction to prohibit foreclosure sale on his condominium unit on Oct. 16.
Werner, who purchased a condo in the Mill Mall in 2017, owns 25% of the building and owes about $160,000 in dues, according to David Beilman, the property manager.
Court documents say Werner has never made a payment for his dues, which total about $2,250 a month. Shortly after Werner bought the condo in 2017, he challenged how much he owed, according to court documents.
Werner is one of four owners of the building — Jireh Billings and his wife Adriana Curutchet own 53% of the Mill Mall, while Charlie Shakelton, the owner of Shakelton Thomas, owns 22%.
The association sought to foreclose on Werner in 2018, but Werner sought an injunction. Counsel for Werner argued in July 2019 that the foreclosure was “flawed” because an earlier board vote about the foreclosure was “unauthorized.”
In October 2018, as majority property owners, Billings and Curutchet voted to expand the association’s board from three members to five.. With the newly expanded board, Billings and Curutchet then voted to foreclose on Werner in December 2018.
To obtain preliminary injunction, Werner would have needed to prove the foreclosure would cause “irreparable harm,” among other damages.
Superior Court Judge Michael Kainen ruled Oct. 16 that Werner couldn’t prove the injunction was needed.
Meanwhile, the Bridgewater Mill Mall owes the town about $13,500 in back sewer taxes, according to Town Treasurer Vicky Young and has been delinquent in sewer taxes for more than five years. The Select Board voted at an Aug. 27 meeting to move forward with the tax sale.
Bridgewater Select Board chair Lynne Bertram said a demand letter to move the tax sale process forward has yet to be mailed to the owners, but the town is planning to continue with the tax sale.
“We’ll be moving forward with that,” Bertram said. “We’ve been dragging our feet a little bit to see if they were going to pay up.”
The Mill Mall owed $38,000 in back sewer sewer taxes in June, and has since made periodic payments, but the Mill Mall owners missed a deadline to pay all past due taxes in full by Aug. 15 in a deal worked out with the town. A $8,000 payment was made on Sept. 11, but the owners missed another quarterly sewer tax payment due on Sept. 15, according to town officials.
Beilman said the Mill Mall’s delay in paying taxes was in part caused by Werner’s delinquent condominium dues.
“The real killer is the huge heating cost on this building in the winter,” Beilman said. “We’ve had to pick up the slack on his electric bills and heat bills.”
Beilman said the Old Mill Marketplace would pay past due sewer taxes as soon as it could.
“I’ve got to try to rally the troops to pitch in to get us at least stabilized and then proceed with a foreclosure sale,” Beilman said. “If we can get that thing to a foreclosure, we will be in good shape. It takes getting rid of one owner.”