For Amherst property owners, the taxman cometh

Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

AMHERST — Hickory Ridge Golf Course, land and buildings that make up the North Amherst Community Farm, and the business properties housing Rafters Sports Bar & Restaurant and Zbylut Motors are among more than two dozen parcels that could be taken by the town for nonpayment of taxes.

The town’s treasurer and collector’s office recently placed a legal advertisement listing 28 properties that remain delinquent on their fiscal year 2017 tax bills. The final quarterly payment for the previous fiscal year taxes were due May 1.

To get into compliance and avoid having a tax lien placed on the properties, owners must pay the property taxes, plus all fees and interest accrued, by Dec. 4, said Co-Acting Finance Director Claire McGinnis,

The largest of these nonpayments include Zbylut Realty, LLC, located at 398 and 406 Northampton Road, which owes $16,206; Applied Golf Hickory LLC, which owns the nearly 150-acre Hickory Ridge Country Club on West Pomeroy Lane and owes $13,215; and HVV Amherst LLC, owner of the 422 Amity St. property which is rented to Rafters, which owes $9,638.

The unpaid property taxes total $1,318 for North Amherst Community Farm.

Bruce Coldham, board chairman for the North Amherst farm, said in an email that the town has been sending the tax payment billings to a previous address.

“This is related to the change in tax payment responsibilities associated with our execution of a long-term lease earlier this year,” Coldham said.

Efforts to reach the owners of the other commercial parcels were unsuccessful, though a man who answered the phone at Zbylut, who didn’t want to be identified, said the tax bill “will be settled immediately.”

McGinnis said based on past history, she anticipates many of the unpaid bills will not be collected, noting that the advertisement is a final step, not the first, in the notification process.

“It’s rare anyone is surprised,” McGinnis said.

State law requires the ads to be published and to identify the owners and addresses of properties, she said.

If taxes remain unpaid, McGinnis said a document is prepared so it can be recorded with the Hampshire Registry of Deeds and puts any future buyers on notice that there is a lien held by the town, and that the town’s payment must be collected if a property is sold.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.