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Scituate selectmen consider taxing church's closed property

By Jillian Fennimore/ Scituate Mariner | Friday, July 15, 2005

With Saint Frances X. Cabrini Church shuttered by the Archdiocese of Boston nine months ago, the Scituate selectmen are exploring a ``creative'' proposal to start taxing the property.

``It's not private property anymore. The tax exemption becomes void,'' Selectman Joseph Norton said about the nonoperating church, which remains occupied by parishioners staging a vigil.

Selectman Chairman Jim Pollard called it ``creative'' and ``a great idea'' worth of looking into.

``It is an extremely valuable piece of property. We are talking millions of dollars here,'' Norton said.

Assessor Steve Jarzembowski said the 25-acre parcel and the church building is assessed at more than $4 million, which would equal a tax bill of $40,000 a year.

Jarzembowski said the matter will be brought up at the next assessors meeting, and the legality will be discussed with town counsel.

Norton, a 30-year St. Francis parishioner, is also looking into taking the property by eminent domain to prevent it from being privately developed.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrence C. Donilon said ``we wouldn't agree with'' the idea of taxation.

``It's still church property,'' he said.