Luzerne County sells 18 tax-delinquent properties

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | February 24th, 2016 4:48 pm

Luzerne County officials unloaded 18 tax-delinquent properties Tuesday, including a dilapidated apartment building on busy Northampton Street in Wilkes-Barre.

The properties were festering in the repository, a pool of parcels that did not sell at past back-tax auctions. The county is liable for repository properties while the owners of record have abandoned them and stopped paying real estate taxes, officials say.

Luzerne County has more than 1,000 repository properties — more than any of the 11 other similarly sized third-class counties in Pennsylvania, records show.

The county and other taxing bodies approved 87 repository sales last year.

The apartment building in the batch of 18 sold this week was purchased by Helena Laurency for $888.

Laurency, who is listed as director of Laurency Optimal Personal Care Agency in Wilkes-Barre, said Wednesday she won’t be prepared to discuss her plans for the new acquisition for several weeks.

“Nothing has been finalized yet,” Laurency said.

Located at the corner of Northampton and South Welles streets, the apartment building has multiple boarded-up windows.

It ended up in the repository because county, city and school real estate taxes were not paid from 2012 through 2015, resulting in a combined debt of $18,695, county tax claim records show.

It’s unclear why the 2012 taxes were not paid when New York-based Service Legend purchased the property for $7,500 in August 2013 from Exact Development, Inc.

Exact had purchased the property in December 2010 for $70,000 from Joseph A. Fessler, county records show.

Wilkes-Barre officials are “looking forward” to reviewing Laurency’s plans for the apartment building because it is at a high visibility location and adjoins a 0.14-acre vacant parcel owned by the city, Wilkes-Barre’s Administrator Greg Barrouk said.

The city purchased the adjacent parcel, which extends to Park Avenue, for $1 in July 2006 from Robert Yencha, the deed shows.

Several apartment buildings on Yencha’s property were demolished in 2006 because the structures had been vacant since a March 2004 fire, officials said.

State law allows repository sales at any time without the need to publicly advertise them.

JEC Land Trust, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, purchased five repository properties, including a 1.24-acre vacant lot at 182 Ransom Road in Dallas Township for $750 and a 1.58-acre lot on the Kunkle-Alderson Road in the township for $500.

LOP Land Trust, which is based at the same Port St. Lucie address as JEC, purchased four vacant properties for $500 each: a 9-acre tract on Clearview Drive, Larksville; a 6-acre parcel on Westminster Road, Jenkins Township; a 3-acre property on Canal Street in Plymouth Township; and a 4.32-acre site at Rear West Main Street, Plymouth.

Here’s a list of the other buyers, along with the addresses of the properties they purchased and their bid amounts according to county records:

• Jason Carr, Saylorsburg — 73 Catlin Ave., Wilkes-Barre, $500

• UMH Properties, Inc., Mountain Top — 51 and 117 Valley Stream Park, Rice Township, $500 each

• Lisa Burns and Raymond Spallone, Wilkes-Barre — 32 Highland St., Jeddo, $500

• Patrick Hudock, Wilkes-Barre — 229 and 225 Willow St., Plymouth, $500 each

• River Road Properties, Inc., Wilkes-Barre — 1657 River Road, Jenkins Township, $500

• Robert Stackhouse, Pittston — 401 West Ave., Bear Creek Township, $792

A list of repository properties available for purchase may be viewed at

Helena Laurency’s purchase of this tax-delinquent apartment building at the corner of Northampton and South Welles streets in Wilkes-Barre for $888 was approved by the Luzerne County Council Tuesday. Laurency’s purchase of this tax-delinquent apartment building at the corner of Northampton and South Welles streets in Wilkes-Barre for $888 was approved by the Luzerne County Council Tuesday.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.