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Concord May Get Back Properties for Back Taxes

By John Emerson
MONTICELLO — April 4, 2000 -- Sullivan County is the owner of some 17 parcels of land in and around the Concord Hotel, and new owner Louis Cappelli says he needs that property back to complete his plans for redeveloping the hotel into a major resort destination.
Late last week, the county legislature’s Real Property committee approved a resolution restoring 13 of the 17 parcels to Cappelli and the hotel for the payment of back taxes, interest and penalties. What to do with the remaining four lots, however, are a source of disagreement among some legislators.
Legislature Chairman Rusty Pomeroy is ready to give Cappelli the property on the same terms that the other 13 lots will be returned: payment of back taxes, including interest and penalties as of the closing date. He said that Cappelli’s plans clearly indicate that the property is critical to redevelopment. He also says that the county will come out not losing any money in the deal.
“There have been too many projects that died in Sullivan County because some property owner tried to get too much money for his land,” Pomeroy said. “When [former owner Joseph] Murphy had the hotel, we kept these out because we thought we could do better trying to sell them separately, and we didn’t think he was legitimate. The organization that is in there now is [legitimate], and I don’t want to see us hold up the project.”
On the other side of the issue, Legislator Chris Cunningham thinks the land is more valuable than simply allowing it to go for back taxes. He says he has no problem with Cappelli eventually becoming the owner of the property but thinks the county should take a more aggressive stance when it comes to returning it.
“I’m not alone on this one,” said Cunningham. “There are other members of the legislature – Rodney [Gaebel], Jodi Goodman – who think we should be careful with this. I think the property could be very valuable, and we have an obligation to the taxpayers to get as much as we can for it.”
The land in question, including a large parcel situated behind Ames Plaza on Route 42, was never included in the bankruptcy proceedings. While much of the land was either contiguous or even within Concord Hotel property, it was owned by a separate corporation and was not part of the deal when Murphy purchased the hotel at auction.
Pomeroy said he plans to include specific performance clauses that Cappelli must meet if the legislature agrees to return the land. He said if Cappelli does not meet those deadlines the land would revert to county ownership.
Those performance clauses may be enough to swing the legislature to his way of thinking.
“Given what we have in place up there now, I have no problem selling him those properties [for back taxes] if they are deemed crucial for his development,” said Legislator Bob Kunis. “As long as there are safeguards in place, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
A special meeting of the committee is scheduled for today to decide what to do with the remaining four lots.

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