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Plum Councilman's land to be auctioned off

| Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

A Plum councilman owes about $4,000 in back taxes on property where he once attempted to erect a senior citizen apartment building.

The vacant land owned by Keith Nowalk, off Leroy Street in Plum, is scheduled to be auctioned March 5 in a sheriff's sale at the Allegheny County Courthouse.

The property spurred months of fiery debate during borough meetings in 2009, when Nowalk, who was not a member of council at the time, unsuccessfully asked for zoning adjustments to give him the authority to build an apartment building for senior citizens.

According to records turned over to the county by Andrews & Price, the Plum School District's delinquent tax collector, Nowalk owes the district $3,887 in delinquent taxes for 2010 and 2011.

Nowalk, a member of council's finance committee, also owes the borough $299 in delinquent property taxes for 2011.

The Leroy Street property contains 16 parcels and is part of a $1.4 million civil judgment against Nowalk by Bay Bank FSB of Lutherville, Md. According to paperwork filed on the Allegheny County Prothonotary's website, the judgment was ordered May 4, 2011.

Nowalk said he didn't pay the taxes on the property because the judgment was ordered months before the taxes were due.

"The taxes weren't paid because the bank was supposed to take possession of it before the taxes were due," Nowalk said.

Borough and school taxes are due by Oct. 31 of each year, Plum Property Tax Collector Harry Schlegel said.

According to the property assessments website, Nowalk, who took office in 2010, is current with his tax payments to Allegheny County.

Nowalk said the judgment includes buildings that he constructed in Ocean City, Md.

Nowalk, who said he has paid more than $4.3 million to the bank, doesn't agree with the amount in dispute and has filed objections.

"It's an open legal battle," Nowalk said.

Nowalk said he had been attempting to sell the property.

Plum Council President Mike Doyle did not comment on the situation.

Nowalk said he purchased the 7.5 acres off Leroy Street around 2004 for about $150,000. The property does not qualify as one of the areas for senior housing because it falls short of the 10 acres required.

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