Foreclosures in Hopatcong...Is It Becoming the Mistake on the Lake?

Pg 1 of Hopatcong Police Investigation prompted by Mayor Petillo
Pg 1 of Hopatcong Police Investigation prompted by Mayor Petillo
REWRITTEN AND UPDATED 3-30-14...Did you know that when we left Hopatcong in June 2013 Hopatcong had just over 500 foreclosures and most of them tax liens at the time? That was almost 10% of the total 5,653 residential properties. 

This is the updated list as it stands now. Out of the 4,784 homes in Sussex county that are in foreclosure (distressed, tax lien, bankruptcy) 675 now are located in Hopatcong. That number grew by 175 in 7 MONTHS. Now it's about 12% of the total 5,653 residential properties. 

Here's the list by address:


Reality check.... this should be a headline story to any other article related to Hopatcong government. If you can't afford to live in Hopatcong because of high taxes or you had to move because you keep losing property value or you can't appeal your taxes now because your reassessment was set too low then what good is the lake if Hopatcong becomes a ghost town? We lived on the lake. We sold our house and moved in June 2013. Took over a $30K loss from what we bought it for in 2003, we paid a realtor's commission as well plus abandoned an in ground oil tank. That's $55K total.  

Why are residents mad? The Mayor decided to do a reassessment because of the drop in property values...   http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/hopatcong-residents-officials-lock... "The new higher taxes are the result of a reassessment done over the past year that dropped the total value of the borough by 30 percent, which lowered the values of the majority of homes and forced up the tax rate". So, in August 2013 Hopatcong residents felt the effects of the new adjusted rate hike.... http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/hopatcong-reassessment-plans-take-... "Records show that Hopatcong's total assessed property value fell from $2.037 billion in 2011 to $1.996 billion in 2012". But in reality here's where Hopatcong property values have gone in the past 10 years...
http://www.zillow.com/hopatcong-nj/home-values/ "taxes have gone up 5-6%/year while values have gone down 5-6%/year". 

So what I said in July of 2013 was that "if this new tax rate threw more homes into foreclosure then this borough mayor has caused greater damage than the previous one that introduced sewers to this borough". I went on further to say "let this July report be our marker which is 500 or about 10% of the homes in Hopatcong are in foreclosure because back in September of 2012 there were only 211, which was LESS than 5% of the residential home market". I went on further to say "if the foreclosure listings increase in September 2013 with the new August tax rate adjustment, you will know the reassessment was a failure that added an additional expense to the budget deficit". The reassessment supposedly cost $300,000. 

Here's what happened right before the last election in 2012......

May of 2012 http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/hopatcong-to-focus-on-economic-dev... "Hopatcong Mayor Sylvia Petillo said Saturday she's planning organizing an economic development and revitalization committee to help grow business in the borough. The committee would be comprised of council members and residents, Petillo said. Councilmen Howard Baker and Michael Francis are expected to be on the committee, she said". The key word here was "PLANNING". 

Shortly after that she got caught with her hand in the cookie jar using taxpayer $ illegally in July 2012 http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/hopatcong-mayor-violated-ethics-la... "DCA said Sylvia Petillo broke a state local government ethics law when she used borough money to fund a mailing to residents advocating a referendum. The second-term mayor said she planning to fight the decision". Again the key word is "PLANNING". 

What happened after she appealed the decision? http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/opinion/p/mayor-petillo-2011-referendumignorance-of-the-law... "the DCA held up that decision in September of 2013". So much for that PLAN. 


Personally I believe there's a reason for this continual drop in property value" because there's a long term "PLAN" to acquire all this property at rock bottom prices in land trust deals through tax liens that will benefit the rich elite thus the reason for combining both the planning and zoning board into ONE controlled by the Mayor and Council.... http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/hopatcong-considering-merging-land...

With time we'll find out if combining the boards was "to cut costs, be of benefit to the taxpayer and a benefit to the applicant," as Petillo said, who also added the move "cut down on legal fees and time residents spent shuffling between the boards" as stated by the Mayor in the DCA violation link above.  

In closing, the "many, many houses on the market" should be your first clue of what's happening in Hopatcong. I for one opposed the reassessment....http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/reassessment-approved-despite-resi... Why? All they did was devalue the properties and raised the multiplier http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/581m-drop-for-2013-hopatcong-prope... so now that the new tax rate is in effect..... all of Hopatcong did see a rise in the foreclosures shortly after that because more residential property owners walked away from their underwater homes because they can't afford the property taxes.... http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/residents-question-hopatcong-counc... But don't complain to Mayor Petillo about how unhappy you are or others are with the situation. All she'll do is send investigators to your home to intimidate you (see 6 attachments). We moved that summer. 

Roll Back Our Tax March 31, 2014 at 04:44 PM
So you're saying I should "respect my elders"? Sorry NO longer a practicing Catholic. But please use spell check when you comment on my posts otherwise you look English deprived.
Roll Back Our Tax March 31, 2014 at 05:20 PM
Michele....so what are you saying? I remember distinctly Emily quoting in this article ... http://hopatcong-sparta.patch.com/groups/goodnews/p/students-are-choosing-to-return-to-hopatcong-schools-says-superintendent ... "Honestly, with those flowery phrases. For the 85% of our taxes we need more then that. Show us test scores and that we have passed Camden in the rankings. Please stop with handing us a line of "bolony" (baloney), I for one do not appreciate you talking like we are a bunch of brainless individuals. Pretty words do not get the job done. Remember we pay 85% of our taxes to the school system. . I don't believe we have a lot of students returning, maybe one or two. Not exactly a stampede. You sound desperate not strong". Although she was a little off in the percentages (85% vs 53% for schools), she was right about one thing ....the ranking next to Camden. So what should be done?
Clay Thomas March 31, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Emily, remember it was Randy that predicted the financial collapse of the world (several times). Personally, I've never been in better shape financially! The dollar dominates world currencies so the financial wizard of Ithanel (now NY) lacks any credibility.
Roll Back Our Tax March 31, 2014 at 07:33 PM
So let's summarize. The poor school performance, the Hudson Farms land deals through the Highlands Act, foreclosures due to tax increases and lack of new business coming into Hopatcong are bringing values of homes down. If I was a betting man next downturn in the market should push Hopatcong into the lake and then I will have to retitle article "The Mistake on the Lake".
Roll Back Our Tax March 31, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Clay...well if you take a look at this graph you might not be so optimistic. I pulled my money out of the market a long time ago. The only ones that are still in it are suckers like you. Keep betting. ... http://www.marketwatch.com/story/scary-1929-market-chart-gains-traction-2014-02-11
Emily April 01, 2014 at 06:23 AM
Clay, thank you for setting the record straight.
Roll Back Our Tax April 01, 2014 at 07:30 AM
What happened to "I really have to stop responding to that fool"?
Emily April 01, 2014 at 12:46 PM
my response was to clay.
Eyeballs April 04, 2014 at 12:52 PM
market was up over 30% last year.... money in da bank baby... you clowns keep crying about that which you can't control.... meanwhile, the smart money keeps on rockin in da free world.... thank you....
Roll Back Our Tax April 04, 2014 at 01:22 PM
Keep rockin!
BeachBum April 09, 2014 at 08:36 AM
Sad thing is most Hopatcong residents have zero pride in their homes - They keep their properties like junk yards
Roll Back Our Tax April 09, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Beachbum....like I said before.... "I will be back in a year and "Biff" will still be in charge...she will have become more wealthy and more corrupt, will have changed Hopatcong into a chaotic dystopia, the drug scene will have gotten worse, there will be more foreclosures, more crime and the schools will have gotten worse". You may want to rent the movie "Back to the Future II".
Michele Guttenberger April 09, 2014 at 11:28 AM
RBOT I think you are wrong on the Back to Future story. I think you will find 10 years from now a Regional HS, a County Police Force and 100% of the Open Space Land being placed in a sort of Sustainable NJ - Highlands Act program where Billionaire Private Clubs who bought undeveloped landholdings at devalued market prices , and were recipients of other State and Federal grant/trust programs will finally get their political victory win with the State of NJ and get additional compensations and the right to develop this property. This is what are County Freeholders are crying about if you are following the stories in the NJ Herald - Freeholder Rich Vohden (on the Highlands Commission) is crying how unjust the Highlands Act was to these landholders like IAT Reinsurance (Bermuda ) Ltd. a.k.a Hudson Farms.
Michele Guttenberger April 09, 2014 at 11:41 AM
You See RBOB - the Principal of IAT gives instructions on how to run a hedge fund and that person has made some big landholding investments in Bryam, Andover and Hopatcong. He is a Principal who made his fortune owning a stock brokerage firm he sold off to Goldman Sachs. Now that man knows something about investing. Therefore, in the future you will not see Biff, or any other of our Country Bumpkin Town Officials. There will just be a big beautiful real estate management office where they hand out glossy magazine prospectuses (glossier than our Hopatcong Calendar) on ownership of this elite well secured private community called Hudson Farms Hamlet of Hopatcong. There will be no sign of the Biff Lady Sylvia she will have vanished with the Borough of Hopatcong. And I also doubt you will be able to afford to buy a Lake Front Home again in Hopatcong because they will be a premium Land investment in the Hudson Farms Hamlet of Hopatcong. Hopatcong looks bad now because it is in the middle of merger acquisition buy out. The ink hasn't dried yet on the take over papers.
Roll Back Our Tax April 09, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Michele...things still have to take it's course before the 10 year plan can take place with the Highland Acts land acquisitions. The land has got to drop further in value and with that the rich and powerful will need Biff in place. You're probably right...she won't get wealthy but they'll keep throwing her a few bones until they don't need her any longer. Because no one wants to pay more than they have to for land development. Since Lake Hopatcong is a state park to begin with, when water becomes the "new" gold...the land surrounding it will be deemed a crucial part of the puzzle to "preserve" the future...only then will property owners realize the master plan behind these foreclosures and the fleecing of the taxpayers in Hopatcong. By then all the politicians involved will be collecting their pensions in sunny Florida and thumbing there nose at not only NJ but Hopatcong too.
BeachBum April 09, 2014 at 12:25 PM
@michele - Whos the takeover sucker?
Michele Guttenberger April 09, 2014 at 07:08 PM
BeachBum their is no take over sucker there is only hand-over suckers. Hopatcong is a Billionaire's dream. But it is in their best financial interest have Hopatcong fall on its knees first before they make their final offers. Cheaper to buy up Hopatcong at auction then buy in the market. It is already a done deal. They seduced our local politicians to hand over the keys. And so they willing placed those keys on the brand new granite counter tops they got as a gift from them in their favorite courtroom that passes every single property resolution that our dual role Borough Attorney and Hudson Farms attorney asks for .
Michele Guttenberger April 09, 2014 at 07:15 PM
Hopatcong should have bumper stickers that say "Hudson Farms knows When Byram Says NO Hopatcong Says GO " Hopatcong a place where Billionaire clubs can roam tax free" "Hopatcong Where We Hike to Preserve the 1 %" " Hopatcong where more than boats are under water" "Hopatcong a proud Highlands sponsor of Urban Tap water" "Hopatcong don't bother to turn of the lights when you leave our butler will do it."
Roll Back Our Tax April 09, 2014 at 07:27 PM
Michele....LOL you're killing me!!!!
BeachBum April 10, 2014 at 01:03 PM
@Michele - What are your thoughts on the Master Plan Design for River Styx that is posted on the Hopatcong website, BIG DREAM?
Michele Guttenberger April 11, 2014 at 01:52 AM
BeachBum - Don't like to put down dreamers but it all comes down to water, sewers, and what the State DEP will allow. The Highlands act has put a damper on investors too. Businesses that invest want to know they have the potential to expand or bring other businesses in that attracts more traffic. So with no commercial growth potential because we handed Hopatcong to the state to control our development in order to give urban hoods future tap water And sewers are ALWAYS the problem and downgraded assessment values on property , also too many foreclosures that further reduces the value of neighboring property, over extended municipal bonds from the last sewer project . Sounds like the Master Plan needs a Master wing and a prayer for lift off.
Roll Back Our Tax April 11, 2014 at 08:19 AM
Michele...Can't do anything till the benzene situation is investigated and then possibly cleaned up... http://www.hopatcong.org/Minutes/min120711.pdf ... that was December 2011..."Louise Bagby asked Councilman Francis about the Benzene plume that is on the River Styx. Last time she asked he told her that we were waiting to hear from the State about what to do about it. Councilman Francis stated that we will apply again this year, to the federal government, for funds to assess the situation. The first grant was denied. We have done it twice already. He stated that he does not give up easily. The State has money for cleanup but we don’t even know if we have anything that needs to be cleaned up". I guess there will be more "planning". I wonder if Francis eventually gave up?
Michele Guttenberger April 12, 2014 at 06:39 PM
RBOT Interesting you found the Meeting Minutes on this. They have pulled or omitted the meeting minutes for most of 2013 and nothing for 2014. http://www.hopatcong.org/Minutes_Meetings.php
Roll Back Our Tax April 13, 2014 at 06:16 AM
Michele...are you suggesting the Mayor is doing something unethical and covering their tracks?
Michele Guttenberger April 13, 2014 at 11:27 AM
RBOT There were several public comment criticisms I had in December's General Mayor Council Meetings that are missing from being posted on the Borough website. MY COMPLAINT- The use of taxpayers funds on our recycling calendar that listed the Hudson Farms event - The Hudson Farm Club is a for profit organization and the charity hike they conduct they declare as their charitable contributions on their federal IRS tax forms (I presented a copy of this tax form as an exhibit for my argument which the Mayor refused to review for her consideration of my taxpayer request) - My argument was: listing this charity hike was providing free advertising and publicity to a for profit club at the Taxpayers' expense on our Municipal Published Literature. No other for profit business was treated as Municipal Recreation program. The Mayor refused to even consider removing them from future Municipal print published and US Postal mailed calendars
Michele Guttenberger April 13, 2014 at 11:29 AM
The 2014 Recycling Calendar was even a more extravagant publication than previous recycling calendars with glossy color photos and they continued to promote Hudson Farm Club "Inc" with a May Month photo Page and listed the event on the Recreation Page (a Club that is part of IAT Reinsurance (Bermuda) Ltd) Now I am told that 2014 Calendar received Federal Grant Money. So the Feds helped to sponsor IAT Reinsurance Ltd Club's event at the same time the IRS and IAT are duking it out in court for a claw back of $186,000,000 in IAT aka Hudson Farms back taxes. IMHO you can't be an All American Philanthropic Entity when you try to avoid paying $186 Million in Federal Taxes and take state tax advantages in Farm Preservation property and low property assessment of these programs that enables a private Bermuda registered entity to purchase this property at a drastically discounted farm preservation price and not be committed to farm this property which was the original intentions of these NJ agricultural tax incentives. Hudson Farm takes food producing property and plays with it. While others in our country and even this county go to bed hungry they have their private club.
Michele Guttenberger April 13, 2014 at 11:31 AM
The shame of our State Gov that allows the wealthy to play with the former food baskets of New Jersey. Now preserved farm lands are used as pre- safari wild game private hunting camps - a special privilege for being a member of the private and very exclusive Hudson Farm Club. The membership fees are outrageous but the capital and operational costs to their owners are at Government Subsidized prices plus all the free glossy PR material published by the Municipal cronies they have in Hopatcong through Federal Gov grant programs
Roll Back Our Tax April 13, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Michele...here's a listing of all the Hopatcong public meetings minutes from 2009 and forward to present month..... http://www.hopatcong.org/Minutes_Meetings.php ... the December 2013 meeting you are referring to now says "to be posted".... http://www.hopatcong.org/Minutes/to_be_posted.pdf ... so are all the other meetings October through December 2013 plus some in 2011 (April and October) and 2014 (March - April). Everywhere you see an * = "to be posted". Obviously, this is an attempt to hide something from the general public. Looks like it's time for some one to file another Ethics complaint. This was deliberate.
Roll Back Our Tax April 14, 2014 at 01:11 PM
Beachbum...maybe you should start another "speak out" article about the number of properties "In The $hitter".
Lake Resident April 15, 2014 at 07:26 PM
Where on the town site?


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »