Last updated: February 16. 2013 5:51PM - 1386 Views

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The former Dominic‚??s on the Lake restaurant at Harveys Lake is among 300 properties listed in Thursday‚??s back-tax auction.


Bids for the restaurant will start at $1,114.


It‚??s a free-and-clear sale, which means back taxes, mortgages and other liens tied to the properties are forgiven. The properties didn‚??t sell at previous first-stage auctions when liens were still attached.


Most of the properties are listed at starting bids under $1,000 to recoup only the tax claim office costs to bring the parcels to auction.


Dominic‚??s, owned by Casty Realty, is assessed at $599,100 and has racked up $40,300 in unpaid property taxes from 2008 through 2011.


The restaurant closed in September 2008 and was previously named Damien‚??s. Dominic Castrignano, who has been identified as the owner, could not be reached for comment.


He has said he spent close to $1 million renovating the building, which had reopened under his name in 2007. He has blamed the restaurant‚??s downfall on the sluggish economy and his inability to refinance loans on the property.


The former Loyal Order of Moose Lodge 128 at 273 Stanton St. in Wilkes-Barre also is up for auction Thursday.


New Jersey resident Christopher Bukowski bought the 6,500-square-foot structure for $12,669 in March 2008 when it was listed in a prior back-tax auction. Bukowski paid no taxes after his purchase and owes $25,972, county records show.


Numerous residential structures and vacant land parcels are listed in the auction.


One of the largest undeveloped plots is a 60.78-acre parcel off Rock Glen Road in Sugarloaf Township owned by the Meadows at Sugarloaf Inc. A total $12,738 in taxes are owed from 2009 through 2011, records show.


The auction list also includes an office and storage building on Wood Street in Wilkes-Barre owned by Choice Properties LLC, which owes $35,500 in back taxes from 2009 through 2011.


A 5-acre catch basin in the Wilkes-Barre Township Commons shopping center anchored by Target also is listed, but it may be removed.


John Rodgers, owner of Northeast Revenue Service LLC, the county‚??s tax-claim operator, said he will discuss removal with the county administration because he doesn‚??t want bidders to unknowingly purchase a liability.


He also doesn‚??t want the county stuck with the property if it doesn‚??t sell Thursday. Properties left after free-and-clear sales go in the county repository, where they remain in limbo unless someone submits a purchase offer accepted by taxing bodies.


The basin, owned by RB Wilkes-Barre LLC, was required to allow construction of retail properties in the land around it. Lower-elevation structures in Wilkes-Barre could flood during heavy rain or melting snow if the basin isn‚??t maintained or malfunctions.


The Wilkes-Barre Township Planning Commission approved a subdivision plan in 2002 that allowed the parcel holding the basin to be separated, records show.


Rodgers said other developers also have stopped paying taxes on unwanted catch basins, roads and scraps of land in an attempt to unload them after they‚??ve sold desirable properties or wrapped up their construction projects.


RB Wilkes-Barre is associated with RD Management Corp. in New York City. A total $219,000 in taxes is owed from 2009 through 2011.


Northeast Revenue removed about 170 of the 400 properties eligible for Thursday‚??s sale because of concerns that some lien holders weren‚??t sufficiently notified, Rodgers said. A special free-and-clear sale will be held in November for these properties, he said.


The company has added wording to the sale listing urging prospective buyers to research property titles before they submit a bid. Searches should verify Northeast Revenue has notified everyone with a claim against a property about the upcoming sale.


‚??We work really hard at making sure everybody is served properly, but bidders should still do their own research,‚?Ě Rodgers said.


Property owners may get properties removed from the sale if they pay the back taxes before the sale, file for bankruptcy or convince a judge that the property should be pulled. Eight properties were removed from the August 2011 free-and-clear auction because the owners filed for bankruptcy.


Tax sale basics

‚?Ę Sale starts: 10 a.m. Thursday in the county courthouse.


‚?Ę Information: Call 825-1512 or at www.luzernecountytaxclaim.com through the judicial sale link.


Bidders must register by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.


‚?Ę Research: Potential buyers may visit the county mapping office in the courthouse and the assessor‚??s office in the courthouse annex to pinpoint the location and description of properties they might want to purchase.


‚?Ę Outstanding liens: Information on properties may be obtained at the prothonotary‚??s office in the courthouse. Bidders may visit the Tax Claim Office, also in the courthouse, to verify all lien holders have been notified of the sale.


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