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Newton Falls Fine Paper timberland went up for auction

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NEWTON FALLS — Approximately 4,000 acres of timberland that were part of property owned by Newton Falls Fine Paper went on the auction block Thursday.

Scotia Investments, the owner of the defunct paper mill, has been selling equipment from the plant and scrapping it for several months.

Timberland that was a part of the mill property was scheduled to be sold Thursday by Continental Plants Group, the same agency that auctioned off the plant equipment in March.

Neither a representative from Continental nor one from Scotia returned calls to answer whether the land sold.

The previous auction of the plant itself took some twists.

At the conclusion of the liquidation sale in March — during which equipment and inventory were sold piecemeal — Continental announced that a single bid of $2.1 million would take precedence over the individual bids. That sale never materialized and the plant’s assets were dismantled and carted away.

Notice of the auction of the timberland was on Continental’s website, but terms and conditions of the sale were not posted.

Neither IDA Executive Director Patrick J. Kelly nor IDA member Mark C. Hall, town of Fine supervisor, went to the auction of the timberland, which was scheduled for 11 a.m. at the plant.

If a sale was made, obtaining title might face a delay.

As part of providing tax-exempt bond financing for the plant’s restart, the IDA acquired title to the facility, including the timberland, in 2007.

Although the IDA last week halted a payment-in-lieu-of-tax agreement for Newton Falls Fine Paper, that was the beginning of relinquishing title.

“We have terminated our interest in the facility. The legal process has not been completed yet,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re in the process of transferring title. Now it’s in the hands of the attorneys.”

The title change will not be a question of if, but when, Mr. Hall said.

The IDA remains hopeful a reuse for the plant property will be found.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for the site,” Mr. Kelly said. “If we see a fit with the potential to utilize the site, we will put them in touch with the Scotia group.”

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