Concord church that took tax fight to Supreme Court sells to developer

Last modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
An East Concord church that lost a lengthy tax dispute in state Supreme Court last year has sold to a Nashua developer.

Destiny Christian Church’s property on Mountain Road will be subdivided to build new homes, with the hope of selling part of an existing church building to a church and selling the remaining acreage as farmland, according to a realtor.

The 26-acre property sold last week for $425,000 to L.J.J. Realty.

Nashua developer Stephen Tamposi is listed as the manager of L.J.J. Realty in state corporation filings. Tamposi, whose family is well-known for development in New Hampshire, did not return messages about the property.

The property had been on the market since 2011, and the church had been disputing its property taxes since 2008.

Realtor Joe Palmisano is already marketing the property on behalf of L.J.J. Realty. Palmisano, of the Masiello Group in Concord, said development on the site will include four new homes.

But much of the property, which has an assessed value of more than $1 million, will be preserved as open space. Palmisano said about 14 acres will be sold as farmland, and the developer plans to raze a dilapidated barn and much of the existing church building.

“So it’s almost like everyone’s getting what they want,” he said. “The neighbors, I would say, are going to have less building to look at – just most of it will be removed. . . . Farmland is going to stay farmland and used for agriculture. Minimum impact with new housing, but at least some, so the city will have a tax base.”

An existing single-family home on the property will also be sold, Palmisano said. Its current asking price is $229,000.

The two-story, yellow cinder-block church building now totals more than 20,000 square feet, according to the city’s assessing database.

Palmisano said the developer will raze all but about 5,000 square feet of that building and market it for sale as a church. That portion, which includes the church’s worship space and offices, “might be a more sustainable size” for a church, Palmisano said. He’s marketing it at an asking price of $329,000.

Destiny Christian Church’s tax dispute with the city was based on the use of space within its two-story building. The city began taxing the church in 2008, when it learned that part of the building was not used for religious purposes. The city argued that some of the building was used for apartments and storage space. Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the church was subject to taxation for the portions of its building that did not have a religious purpose.

The Supreme Court ruling was based on the church’s appeal of its 2008 property taxes. It had also appealed its taxes in 2009 and 2010. Last year, the city placed a lien on the property for more than $5,000 in unpaid 2011 property taxes. The church also owes more than $7,000 in 2012 taxes, according to the city’s online database.

Development plans for the property are subject to approval from the city. The land is zoned for medium-density residential use. Previously a bull farm, it later was used for a school and dormitories. Destiny Christian Church, formerly called Liberty Assembly of God, has used the building since 1994.

The Rev. Jim Guzofski Jr., the church’s pastor, declined to comment about the property sale.

“I see no reason to discuss the events we have just gone through with our sale or any other past events,” he wrote in an email. “Destiny Christian Church looks forward to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Concord and the surrounding area.”

News of the sale was posted on the church’s Facebook page last week, including a notice that services will continue at the Mountain Road building for the next two months.

“It is Finished – the battle with the city is over,” said one Facebook post from the church last week. “God have mercy on our city for they know not what they do. I pray Your grace and mercy fall on Concord always even in its foolishness.”

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)