Troy Mills owner asks for million-dollar tax break
By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff | Posted: Monday, January 19, 2015 12:00 pm
TROY — The owner of the former Troy Mills complex is asking selectmen to write off more than $1 million in back taxes on the site, as it seeks to sell the property.
Troy Redevelopment Group, the nonprofit organization that owns the complex, has reached a tentative agreement to sell the complex to Troy Properties LLC, a new corporate entity established by Robert E. Hanson, according to a Jan. 13 memo provided to The Sentinel by Selectman Gideon L. Nadeau Sr.
The selectmen held a nonpublic meeting on the issue last week. The Sentinel and Nadeau dispute the legitimacy of that meeting, held Jan. 12.
Nadeau said he went public with the memo because he believes townspeople deserve a say on the future of the mill complex, including forgiving the $1.2 million in back taxes.
Hanson and his partners have been working to buy the property for eight years, through a company called Troy Mills Developers LLC (TMD).
“… In spite of the depressed economy, the site is now environmentally clean and positioned for redevelopment without any cost to the Town, largely through the efforts of Mr. Hanson and TMD,” the memo said.
Hanson had negotiated an option to purchase the property from the Troy Redevelopment Group in 2005, with a plan to put condominiums on the site. But that plan never materialized, and that option ended in June 2014, according to the memo.
As part of the new agreement, Troy Properties will enter into a three-year agreement, giving it the right to purchase the mill complex for $400,000, as long as certain terms are met, according to the memo.
Those terms include Troy selectmen agreeing to release the $1.2 million lien on the property, which was established to capture back taxes from the mill before it filed for bankruptcy, and Troy Properties immediately moving forward with a subdivision plan that separates out the building called the “High Bay,” the memo said.
In addition, Troy Properties won’t pay the $400,000 purchase price all at once, but over time, as the subdivision plan is approved, and agreements are reached with the N.H. Department of Environmental Services and the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority, according to the memo.
Selectman: Voters should have a say
Selectmen Chairman William T. “Tom” Matson said this morning all three members of the board, he, Nadeau and Robert J. Kemp Jr., took a roll-call vote to enter nonpublic session, as required by state law, to discuss the memo.
He cited an exemption from the open meeting law that allows “(m)atters which, if discussed in public, would likely affect adversely the reputation of any person, other than a member of the public body itself, unless such person requests an open meeting. This exemption shall extend to any application for assistance or tax abatement or waiver of a fee, fine, or other levy, if based on inability to pay or poverty of the applicant,” even though the memo is between two organizations, not individuals.
Nadeau said the board is to vote on the proposal to waive the taxes tonight.
A town meeting warrant article approved by voters in 2004 gives the selectmen the authority to sell, or assign ownership of the Troy Mills complex as long as board members determine it’s in the best interest of the town.
Matson declined to comment on the memo this morning, saying he won’t comment on anything presented in nonpublic session.
“It’s a business contract between two parties, and not the town of Troy,” he said.
He called Nadeau’s actions a “grave breach of public trust.”
Nadeau said he is breaking ranks with his fellow board members and releasing the memo to the public because he doesn’t believe the proposal is in the best interest of the town.
He believes the property is worth a lot more than $400,000, and is concerned about forgiving the $1.2 million in back taxes owed on the site. He also has concerns with several other aspects of the proposal, and would rather it come before the voters at town meeting, he said.
“I feel this is important enough that we need to get the town involved in it,” he said.
Troy Mills Inc., which originally made horse blankets before becoming a leading producer of automotive fabrics, filed for bankruptcy in 2003 after it closed in 2001. The Troy Redevelopment Group, appointed by the town’s board of selectmen to address environmental concerns on the property, then acquired the property.