NORWAY — The Oxford County Superior Court has ruled in the town’s favor on the value of the Norway Opera House.

Last week, the town of Norway and BiTiM Enterprises, the building’s former owner, disputed the value of the building in Superior Court. The town’s attorney contended the building was worth $185,000 in December 2009 when the town took it by eminent domain.

BiTiM Enterprises and its principal, Barry Mazzaglia, said $328,000 was a fair price for the property. That figure came from J. Chet Rogers, a New Hampshire appraiser Mazzaglia hired.

On Thursday, Justice Robert W. Clifford signed a judgment that $185,000 was a reasonable value for the property.

“The Town’s appraiser, Patricia Amidon, estimated the value of the building to be $185,000,” Clifford’s judgment read.

“The court finds her appraiser methodology to be appropriate, and her testimony to be credible.” The judgment was based on evidence and more than 12 hours of testimony by the parties on July 14 and 15.

Advertisement

On Sept. 21, 2007, part of the opera house roof collapsed, severing a sprinkler pipe which flooded parts of the first floor and compromised the building’s stability. At a special town meeting, the town authorized selectmen to take the property by eminent domain.

“The town’s two choices were to demolish it as a dangerous building and bill (Mazzaglia) for those costs or to take it and stabilize it,” Holt said in an email. “Because of its significance to Norway and the region, the town voted to take it.”

“Prior to that, (Mazzaglia) had had a year to make the building safe and had not done so,” he said.

Mazzaglia testified last week that he received a $40,000 bid to repair the roof and trusses that had rotted, but found the bid was too high. Instead, he worked with a subcontractor to repair the building himself.

Mazzaglia said he paid $225,000 for the building in 2003. He testified that he added a new roof and floors, as well as other improvements.

In late 2010, the town hired Chabot’s Construction to stabilize the building at a cost of more than $233,000. In his judgment, Clifford found that figure to be reasonable and necessary to stabilization, noting the opera house is still not fit for occupancy.

Advertisement

Mazzaglia’s appraiser had submitted a $22,000 figure to prepare the building for occupancy, but said the $328,000 estimate wouldn’t be accurate if the cost of rehabilitating the structure and readying it for paying tenants was substantially more than $22,000.

Clifford ruled the work by Chabot’s Construction proved that was so. “The court finds that the actual amount that was necessary and would be still be necessary to ready the building for occupancy is so much in excess of $22,000, that the court has to conclude that the Rogers appraisal of $328,000 can not be relied on,” he wrote.

Town Manager David Holt said experts from the town gave good, factual testimony in the condition of the building.

“The town is pleased to have this payment issue resolved and will continue to work methodically toward the goal of working with its partners to once again see the Norway Opera House as a valuable contributor to life on Main Street,” Holt said in an email.

treaves@sunjournal.com


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: