Concerns raised over property removal from home
CLAREMONT — The removal of a resident’s personal property from a city deeded home has called city procedure into question.
The home, located at 54 Windsor Road, was previously owned by Roy Hunter.
The property was taken by tax deed last August, Police Chief Alex Scott said Wednesday.
In early April, city officials told Hunter he could no longer live there. There is no running water and the building is in danger of collapse, he said.
Since then, city officials have been working through the process with Hunter of having him remove his personal belongings from the property, Scott said.
However, the deadline for when he had to have all of his belongings out had not been formalized, Scott said.
On June 24, city finance director Mary Walter, with help from other city employees went to the property to take an inventory of what was in the home and decided to take some items that day, Scott said.
The city employees took the property, which was mostly antiques, from the home and brought them to the Department of Public Works yard, Scott said.
“The people that were doing that were operating under the theory that that was the city’s property,” Scott said.
After learning of the removal of the items, Scott said he met with city attorney Jane Taylor.
“We both agreed that we were uncomfortable with where we were procedurally so we decided the best course of conduct was to have the property retuned,” Scott said.
The property was returned on June 25, within 24 hours of its removal, he said.
City officials say all of the property has been returned, but Hunter has claimed that some of the items were not returned including some antique flags and coins.
Hunter had been given an eviction notice on June 25 — to be out by July 3 — said Brad Wilder, an attorney representing Hunter.
Wilder said he responded to that notice, because it did not give the required 28 days. After negotiating with city officials, a date of Aug. 8 has been set, he said.
The city did not comply with statute, though, Wilder said. “He was entitled under the law to more time.”
City resident and state representative Joe Osgood said he has known the Hunter family for many years. He was contacted by several people close to the situation and heard their concerns over the city’s actions.
“Roy is not the type of guy to do things quickly and procrastination could cost him some of his property in the end, but as long as the city is doing it by the book,” Osgood said.
Osgood contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office asking for an inquiry. He was told several days later by the Attorney General’s office that after speaking with Scott, they felt there was no need for further action.
Scott said he has explained the situation to both the Attorney General’s office and the Sullivan County Attorney’s office, to both agencies’ satisfaction.
Osgood said he is disappointed there is no independent or outside review of the city’s actions.
There should be a closer look into how the city disposes of property in these cases, Osgood said.
Osgood said he is familiar with another case of the city selling a tax-deeded home by auction about three months ago. There were several vintage cars on the property that were sold by the new property owner. Most of the cars were owned by the previous property owner; however, one, a vintage Mustang, belonged to a different man.
“This vehicle did not belong to the owner of the property that it was taken away from,” Osgood said. “When he went to the city, they told him there was nothing he could do about it.”