Ansonia halts foreclosure against St. Josephís Church
  Joanne M. Pelton, Naugatuck Valley Bureau Chief   September 30, 2000

ANSONIA ó The city has halted foreclosure proceedings against a local church over $14,459 in unpaid taxes on a plot of land in the cityís North End.

City officials said St. Josephís Roman Catholic Church had failed to notify the city it owns the small lot next to Warsaw Park on Pulaski Highway. The church has owned the property since 1958. 

The city started foreclosure proceedings on the parcel in July. 

State law recognizes churches as nonprofit religious organizations not subject to taxation. 

Ansonia Attorney Edward J. Androski said the foreclosure caused embarrassment to many parishioners who were "shocked and angered" over the action. 

Androski said the church kept the city informed of its non-taxable status, but the city continued to send tax delinquency notices. 

He said the church has owned Warsaw Park since 1933 and the adjacent parcel since 1958. The parcel is used as a buffer zone to keep noise down for nearby residents, since Warsaw Park is used for events such as polka festivals and bingo games. 

After Androski contacted city officials at the churchís request, the city looked into the matter and stopped the foreclosure proceeding. 

Shelton Attorney Francis Teodosio, who represents the city, said according to the Ansonia Tax Assessorís Office, no claim of religious exemption had been filed. He said a recent title search showed the Holy Rosary Club, which gave the lot to the church in 1958, owns the lot. 

Teodosio said the city decided to foreclose on the property after he discovered the Holy Rosary Club no longer exists, and former members of the club had no information on the current ownership of the lot. 

Androski said the city tax office never noted the change in ownership even though it "was repeatedly communicated to the Assessorís Office." 

He has now asked the city to designate the parcel of land as non-taxable and designate the land as being part of Warsaw Park. The Board of Aldermen must vote on the matter. It will be discussed Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall. 

The Assessorís Office could not be reached Friday, and the dimensions of the lot were not available because City Hall is closed on Fridays. 

Mayor James Della Volpe said the entire issue should be cleared up soon. 

"We hope to get this all resolved," Della Volpe. "Itís just something that fell through the cracks and was never dealt with properly by the city in the past."