In a complex land deal that he says is still under negotiation, Gov. Peter Shumlin is on the verge of expanding his real estate holdings in East Montpelier.
Shumlin on Tuesday afternoon said he plans to buy a 16-acre tract next to the 27 acres he purchased in June. But, as was the case with that previous purchase, the latest deal is anything but conventional.
“It’s complicated, and I don’t want to go into too much of (the seller’s) personal finances,” Shumlin said. “All I can tell you is we will work it out in the coming weeks.”
Shumlin addressed the looming transaction after the Vermont Press Bureau on Tuesday uncovered a mortgage deed on file at the East Montpelier town office.
You can read it here: MortgageDeedShumlin
In it, a man named Jeremy Dodge appears to sign over 16 acres and a house to Foster Road LLC — the same limited liability company that Shumlin used to purchase the 27-acre parcel June 11.
Shumlin said the deed doesn’t sign over the property to his LLC but rather functions as a lien designed to safeguard the $23,000 that Shumlin said he loaned Dodge in anticipation of purchasing the land.“My intention is to buy the property,” Shumlin said. “If something fell apart, I’m protected because I have that claim against the property.”
According to town records, Dodge’s property had been scheduled to go up for tax sale following years of unpaid taxes. Shumlin said he gave Dodge the money he needed — $23,000 — to cover his taxes and other liabilities while the two men work out a deal for the entire property.
Shumlin said he entered into the transaction after Dodge came to him seeking help to avoid the tax sale. Town listers in East Montpelier have valued the Dodge property at $233,700.
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t believe in buying things at tax sale,” Shumlin said. “It’s not something I like to do, because the homeowner … can get displaced from their home without getting any financial benefit.”
Shumlin said the $23,000 will count toward the final purchase price. Though the mortgage deed on file in East Montpelier references a “purchase and sale agreement entered into by and between Jeremy Dodge and Foster Road LLC,” Shumlin said they haven’t actually settled on a purchase price.
“The details have to be finalized,” Shumlin said. “The only thing I’ve done is paid the property taxes and have a mortgage against the house.”
According to the mortgage deed, Shumlin’s claim on the property will be rendered null and void if Dodge repays the $23,000. However, Shumlin said that’s a moot provision, since he’s going to buy the whole parcel anyway.
Shumlin said his loan to Dodge is interest free and that, despite the fact that he plans to close on the property within “the next six weeks,” he is going to allow Dodge to remain in his house rent free until at least July.
“I’m not making any money off him, let’s put it that way,” Shumlin said.
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