Tax deadline passes for Montville properties once slated for development

Montville — The owners of 37 properties that have sat vacant and unused for more than a decade have continued to avoid paying more than $1 million in taxes, missing the Aug. 1 deadline for the 2016 tax year.

The current owner, a limited liability company that acquired the properties in 2013, has not paid property taxes since 2010 and now owes $1,163,572 on the properties, all of which have liens against them. The town could foreclose on the properties but has made no move to do so.

Attorneys for CT Financial Partners, which is managed by Joel Greene, one of the would-be developers of the 250 acres between Route 32 and the Thames River, have promised multiple times that they would pay the taxes owed on the houses and empty land.

“They came in and told us ... that they were going to have it paid in the middle of June,” said Jerl Casey, the town's tax collector.

The $1.16 million remained unpaid as of the 2016 tax deadline of Aug. 1, Casey said.

Hackman Capital Properties, a Los Angeles-based real estate investment firm began buying up the riverfront land, and the decades-old homes built on them, in the early 2000s.

In 2005, Tarragon Development Corp. bought the land, promising to build a hotel, an 18-hole golf course, luxury condominiums, upscale stores and a marina.

By 2009 the company had filed for bankruptcy. The project became the subject of multiple lawsuits, including one against Greene and John Voloshin — the original developers to start attracting interest in the site — and another between Voloshin and Tarragon over their partnerships in projects in Montville, New London and Stonington.

The houses and empty acres of land have sat empty, filling with mosquitos, graffiti and squatters, for more than 10 years.

MH Investors LLC, which holds a $2 million mortgage on the properties, filed for foreclosure last year because Greene was behind on mortgage payments. The foreclosure suit has been pending in New London Superior Court since September 2016.

Greene’s attorney declined to comment on the suit or the taxes Wednesday.

Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel said he has stayed in touch with representatives from CT Financial Partners, who have told him that they have plans to refinance the mortgage debt and intend to pay the taxes.

“I don’t know what their ultimate plan is for it,” he said. “They sent me an email that they were refinancing their debt.”

The Aug. 1 deadline coming and going without the taxes coming in will have no effect on the status of the properties or the likelihood that the town will foreclose on them.

"There's no magic date," McDaniel said.

In 2010, when the Tarragon holding company Mohegan Hill Development filed an agreement to sell the land to an unidentified buyer, town officials said they were worried the Mohegan Tribe intended to purchase the property, which would allow it to file with the federal government to take the land into trust and remove it from the town's tax rolls.

The properties are adjacent to the Mohegan Tribe reservation, and inside the 700-acre settlement area the Mohegan Tribe was granted when it was federally recognized in 1994.

The tribe has acquired property within that settlement area property since 1994. Tribe officials have said they plan to apply to have taken into trust any land it owns adjacent to its reservation and the Mohegan Sun casino.

Because of the liens, CT Financial Partners won’t be able to sell the properties until the taxes are paid on each one, Casey said.

“They couldn’t sell, they couldn’t build anything, they could not do anything with the property until those are satisfied,” he said.

m.shanahan@theday.com

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