Dyer Mountain resort property headed for tax sale
July 16, 2013 — They say nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. Well, for the owners of Dyer Mountain, the proposed four-season resort near Westwood, the taxman cometh, and the death of the project soon may be near, too.
Richard Egan, Lassen County’s treasurer/tax collector, said the owners of the property missed the June 30 deadline to set up a payment plan for nearly $3.3 million in back taxes and interest due to the county. The property owners discussed setting up a payment plan with the county prior to the deadline, Egan said, but it would have cost them about $950,000 to set up a payment plan. They did not.
“Had they set up a payment plan, we wouldn’t sell it,” Egan said. “But since they didn’t, now it’s all or nothing.”
The company’s only remaining option to redeem the property from a tax sale is to pay the total amount due by 5 p.m. the day before the tax sale is scheduled or sell the property to someone else who will redeem the property prior to the sale. In the meantime, the interest on the past due balance continues to accrue at 18.5 percent per annum.
Egan said the county will prepare a notice of impending power to sell, a document that will give the county the authority to sell the property to settle the back-tax debt.
Normally, Egan said he would record the document and then go to the board around December for authorization to sell the property the following spring — usually in May.
“With Dyer Mountain, I’m thinking of accelerating that as much as I can and perhaps doing it (selling the property) in the winter,” Egan said. “There are still time frames I need to go through as far as notice and that sort of thing and board approval, but it could sell as early as this winter.”
Egan said there have been “a lot of rumbles” about potential buyers of the property, “but we haven’t seen anything official on that.”
According to Egan, “the pressure is on for them (the owners) to sell it” before the county tax sale and some parties interested in purchasing the property from the owners have reportedly been looking at it.
Egan said in addition to the back taxes and interest and the interest continuing to accrue, the county also will be able to recover all of its costs associated with the sale as the process moves forward.
Should the owners find a buyer, they would have to pay the whole delinquency off, Egan said.
The fate of the four-season resort remains uncertain, and some county insiders say it may be possible for the new owners to assume the development agreement and continue with the project.
The Dyer Mountain ski resort project began in November 2000 when Lassen County voters approved an initiative modifying the Lassen County General Plan to designate the area as a four-season resort. The developer originally divided the 7,000-acre project into 13 parcels.
The county prepared an environmental impact report in 2005 that analyzed 88 potential environmental impacts and six alternative projects. Of the 88 potential impacts, the EIR identified 71 potentially significant impacts including 17 impacts described as ‘unavoidable.”
The Lassen County Board of Supervisors certified the Final EIR Sept. 26, 2007 and approved a tentative subdivision map.
On Oct. 9, 2007, the board adopted the Dyer Mountain Mitigation/Development Agreement “which admittedly constitutes a legal contract between the developer and the county controlling how the project will proceed.”
Following bankruptcy proceedings, Dyer Management, LLC obtained ownership of the property March 30, 2009. On Dec. 15, 2009, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors approved Dyer Management’s assumptions of the rights and obligations of the development agreement.
“When approved by both parties,” former Lassen County Counsel Craig Settlemire wrote, “Dyer Management will, in effect, ‘step into the shoes’ of the original developer, receiving all the rights and undertaking all the responsibilities in regard to the project.”
The deadline for the owners to set up a payment plan for about $3.3 million in back taxes and interest expired June 30. Now the back taxes and costs must be paid in full by 5 p.m. the day before the property is scheduled to be sold to redeem the property from a tax sale.
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