WILTON — The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 Tuesday to have residents decide whether to waive foreclosure on the former Forster Mill property 516 Depot St.

The board scheduled a town meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at the Town Office.

Board Chairman D. Scott Taylor opposed the move.

“We’re just prolonging it,” he said.

For the past two years, the board has waived foreclosure for unpaid taxes while waiting for owner Adam Mack, operating under Wilton Recycling LLC, to follow through on promises to demolish the mill and restore the property.

“We’re going to have to step up,” Selectman Tom Saviello said. He said the situation is “the biggest frustration” faced during his years on the board.

“(Mack) has shown he’s not a good businessman,” he said.

Selectmen think part of the problem is some people don’t understand who owns the property and why the town hasn’t stepped in.

Board members want to explain the costs, benefits and risks associated with waiving foreclosure and taking the property.

If townspeople vote “no” on waiving foreclosure, the town will own the property unless Mack comes up with money before liens are sent March 20,  Town Manager Rhonda Irish said.

If they decide to waive foreclosure, the town will need to continue the process through the courts, potentially another three years of legal fees, she said. The town still could face the costs of demolition.

The board started court action this past November to force Wilton Recycling LLC to remove all unsafe conditions at the building within 30 days.

A complaint filed in Franklin County Superior Court in Farmington asked that the town be allowed to remove the unsafe conditions and be awarded costs for removal of the structure and building materials if Wilton Recycling LLC does not complete the work in the time allotted.

The town first asked the court to order that the structure is a dangerous building as defined by state law, according to court documents.

“We’re losing money every year,” Selectman Tiffany Mauiri said. Legal fees total more than the taxes, she said.

Mack owes the town $14,576 in taxes, including $3,100 this year,  Irish said Wednesday. His last tax payment was received in June 2013. Although he was in prison, his representatives continued making payments on back taxes owed, she said.

“If we take it, we’ll have to figure out how to take it down,” Saviello said. “We’ll pay one way or the other.”

For a state-approved, reputable company to undertake the demolition work, Mack’s last representative estimated the cost at $250,000 to $350,000. The representative was only given $30,000 by Mack to work with, Irish said last summer.

Selectman Paul Berkey agreed that the process is being prolonged and the town is facing the expense at some point.

“(Mack) is not going to pay,” Berkey said.

Mack started demolition in the spring of 2011 with the intent to recycle contents. The demolition was stopped in July that year after testing by the Department of Environmental Protection revealed significant amounts of asbestos disturbed by a demolition crew working for Ryan Byther of Downeast Construction.

Remediation work was finally completed in 2012. Mack was then serving a six-month sentence in federal prison on an unrelated charge.

An inspection last year revealed revenue expected from reclaimed metal and wood would not amount to much. What is there is not of great value, Irish previously said.

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