DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

December 19, 2013

Derry officials to ponder town-owned property

Councilors will get list of all land the town owns

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — DERRY —The Town Council has made a New Year’s resolution to study all the property Derry owns.

Councilors plan to have a list of all town-owned properties in hand as 2014 gets started. They will make real estate a top issue for discussion.

“It will be good to get the list,” Councilor Brad Benson said.

Derry could own upward of 100 properties. Many are schools, parks and town fields. Other properties make the inventory list due to people’s failure to pay taxes or other reasons.

“Some is also conservation land we can’t touch,” Councilor Al Dimmock said.

Town land has been a popular topic of conversation at recent meetings.

A joint Town Council and Planning Board meeting gave both sides a chance to talk about goals for Derry and how to make properties more valuable to potential businesses that might want to locate here.

The town owns several properties downtown, including the former Difeo oil property that could be earmarked for future development.

Councilor Tom Cardon wants to see a park created there to help boost the downtown. Others want properties sold to put more tax revenue on the books.

The Town Council recently approved a potential land deal to sell a 1.38-acre property at 13 Manchester Road, the site of the former Pinkerton Tavern.

Councilors held two public hearings on that land deal prior to giving their OK to sell it. The tavern was one of 15 properties standing in the way of the town’s Route 28 widening project from the Crystal Avenue/Tsienneto Road intersection up toward Ashleigh Drive.

Many in town were against the eventual demise of the tavern.

Derry finally paid $722,842 for the property in 2011. The building was torn down the following year.

The parcel is assessed at $255,000.

Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau said there is an interested buyer, but would not give specifics.

“We have not disclosed that publicly yet,” he said.

Budreau said by selling the land the town could restore $7,500 in tax revenue. Additional development at the site could bring in more money.

He said Derry owns property through a variety of situations.

“Most of the property that we acquire is through the tax-deeding process,” Budreau said. “Generally, our past practice has been to use an auction process to dispose of those and other properties.”

The goal, he said, is to recoup any unpaid taxes and, most importantly, get the property back on the tax rolls rather than being owned by the town.

The Pinkerton Tavern land was handled through broker Collier’s International, Budreau said.

As councilors ponder real estate, the Planning Board will make the town’s zoning ordinance a top priority in 2014.

That could give another perspective on all the land in Derry and what governs potential development.

“We will revisit all the town’s zoning, its usage, definitions and will clean things up,” Planning Board Chairman David Granese said.