Batch of 39 Luzerne County repository purchases up for council approval

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
This brick structure on South Hanover Street in Nanticoke is among 39 properties that have attracted purchase offers from Luzerne County’s repository, a pool of lots and structures that did not sell at past back-tax auctions. - Luzerne County assessment photo

WILKES-BARRE — Prospective buyers have submitted offers to purchase 16 structures and 23 vacant lots from Luzerne County’s tax claim repository for a combined $19,483, according to a list recently presented to county council’s real estate committee.

Properties go into the repository if they don’t sell in at least two highly competitive back-tax auctions. Offers can be submitted at any time and are typically $500 because county officials are eager to get rid of them.

The county is semi-liable for the properties, serving as legal trustee while the owners of record have abandoned them and stopped paying real estate taxes, officials have said. The county’s repository inventory had hovered around 1,000 properties for years but was down to 890 in November, assessment records show.

County council is scheduled to vote on the sales Tuesday.

County Manager C. David Pedri told the committee he recommends the sales proceed.

“If we don’t sell, they will sit,” he said.

Four of the prospective buyers submitted offers that exceeded $500, the list shows:

• Jose Marisal, $1,691 for a brick house on 0.08 acre at 529 S. Hanover St. in Nanticoke that is assessed at $96,800. City representatives said the former church convent has been condemned.

• Hang Donovan, $1,454 for a mobile home on 0.94 acre on Old East End Boulevard in Bear Creek Township that is assessed at $65,600.

• Kelly Marie Bolt, $1,322 for a house converted to apartments on 0.06 acre at 151/153 Roberts St. in Newport Township that is assessed at $67,200.

• Chris Coleman, $510 for 0.4 acre on White Birch Lane in Hunlock Township assessed at $17,800.

Conversely, six of the offers are for $1 each because the buyers are municipalities or the blight-targeting North East Pennsylvania Land Bank Authority.

Several Pittston-area municipalities teamed to form the tax-exempt authority last year, with a mission to clean up abandoned and eyesore properties and put them back in productive hands, which can include a municipality, charity or taxpaying citizen or developer.

The land bank submitted offers to buy three repository properties in Pittston — vacant lots on Plank and Market streets and one unit in a row of homes at 7 Charles St.

Joe Chacke, the authority’s executive director, said the Market Street lot still contains rubble from demolition of a fire-damaged house.

The Plank Street lot has legal title issues that must be resolved so it can be sold for new construction, Chacke said.

And the row home unit is full of garbage and severely blighted, he noted. The authority will clean out and secure the structure until a future plan is developed, he said.

The authority owns 22 properties and has demolished seven to date, according to Chacke.

Meanwhile, Sugar Notch Borough submitted an offer to purchase a deteriorated house on 0.13 acre in the rear 700 block of Main Street.

In addition, Shickshinny wants to purchase houses at 158 Susquehanna Ave. and 26 Conyngham St.

$500 offers

The remaining proposed buys were $500 each, including an offer from Newport Properties II LLC to purchase the former Centre Inn site on 0.74 acre at 311 Newport St., Newport Township, which is assessed at $392,300. The company also submitted an offer to purchase an adjacent 0.33-acre lot for $500.

State assessment law says the sale price of a repository property “shall be deemed to be the fair market value of the property for tax assessment purposes” until that property is sold, improved or revalued as part of a new countywide reassessment.

County officials have required repository buyers to file assessment appeals to qualify for this reduction, but some lawyers have argued the reduction should be automatic for repository buyers.

The others offering $500 for structures:

• Samuel and Leigh Ann Saylor, a house assessed at $93,400 on Old Lake Road in Harveys Lake that is on leased land not included.

• Jaysen Smith, a house converted to apartments on 0.13 acre in the 200 block of Hillside Avenue in Edwardsville assessed at $45,400.

• Andres Mejia, two purchases — a half-double on 0.2 acre on Route 940 in Hazle Township assessed at $44,400 and a house on 0.05 acre in the 100 block of Seneca Street in Pittston assessed at $73,000.

• Joseline Reyes, a half-double in the 70 block of Madison Street in Wilkes-Barre assessed at $64,100.

• Dawn Gills, a double-block house on 0.09 acre at 37 Slope St. in Nanticoke assessed at $40,000.

• BLMNAL LLC, a half-double at 1219 Center St. in Newport Township on 0.1 acre assessed at $48,800.

• Alicyea Norcross, a mobile home assessed at $1,300 with no land included in Fairmount Township.

Vacant land

The remaining $500 offers, all for vacant lots, along with their assessments:

• Carol Ferguson, 0.03 acre on Rear Parsonage Street, Pittston, $13,800.

• Larry Singleton, 0.07 acre on Elk Lane in Wilkes-Barre, $12,600.

• Sandra Murphy, 0.12 acre on Forest Road in Foster Township, $7,700.

• Christina Popielarz, three parcels on Goodwin Avenue in Dallas Township — 0.35 acre, $22,800; 0.59 acre, $30,100; and 0.41 acre, $24,600.

• Mary and Gahrad Harvey, 0.36 acre on Bethel Hill Road in Fairmount Township, $14,900.

• Luz Celeste Sanchez, 0.09 acre on South Fulton Court in Hazleton, $25,000.

• Jeury Azcona Estevez, 0.05 acre on South Bennett Court in Hazleton, $25,000.

• Attorney Peter Fagan, 0.28 acre on Janhanna Circle in Hazle Township, $24,500.

• Jeffrey Ballentine and Alexy Christian, 0.26 acre on Woodhaven Drive in Foster Township, $8,400.

• Frank Spigarelli, 0.12 acre on Main Street in Avoca, $19,200.

• Carl Lisowski, 0.04 acre on North Street in Plains Township, $13,300.

• Darl and Robin Neely, 0.22 acre on Newport Street in Newport Township, $29,300.

• H and M Investment Properties, 0.31 acre on West Eighth Street in Kingston Township, $12,500.

• Shon Woodrosky, 0.2 acre on Woodlawn Avenue in Harveys Lake, $14,400.

• BLMNAL LLC, 1.55 acres on Oak Road in Sugarloaf Township assessed at $31,200.

• Rachell Ramcallian, 1.92 acres on Reyburn Road in Union Township assessed at $300.

• Roberto Benenati, 0.06 acre on East Beech Street in Hazleton, $14,900.

This brick structure on South Hanover Street in Nanticoke is among 39 properties that have attracted purchase offers from Luzerne County’s repository, a pool of lots and structures that did not sell at past back-tax auctions.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_repository.jpegThis brick structure on South Hanover Street in Nanticoke is among 39 properties that have attracted purchase offers from Luzerne County’s repository, a pool of lots and structures that did not sell at past back-tax auctions. Luzerne County assessment photo

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

MORE INFORMATION

A list of available properties is at the tax claim office in the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre or at www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com.

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

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