A Brooks man beat a crowded field of bidders July 17 to pick up three Belfast tax foreclosure properties. The City Council held onto a fourth property to investigate a bid by Belfast Water District.

City Manager Joe Slocum opened stacks of sealed bids before a full house at the council's regular Tuesday night meeting. In the end, Nate Stover placed the highest bids on three properties.

Stover bid $14,001 for 97 Swan Lake Ave., a 0.6-acre lot with a mobile home and $5,012 owed in taxes, beating out three other bidders. His bid of $15,150 for 39 Back Belmont Road, a 1.1-acre lot with mobile home and $3,117 owed in taxes, was the highest of seven, coming in $150 above the second-highest bid. Finally, Stover bid $40,150 for 85 Back Belmont Road, a narrow 2.5-acre lot with a small house and $8,138 owed in taxes, taking the property by a wide margin over 10 other bidders, including the owner of a 165-acre parcel that surrounds the foreclosed lot on three sides.

Stover said he plans to clean up the properties and develop them as rentals.

The council held onto an undeveloped 3.3-acre lot at 23 Baker Road because the lower of two bids came from Belfast Water District. The property abuts a 100-acre swath of Water District property that sits over Belfast's municipal water aquifer. Councilors wanted to know if selling the property to the utility would give an additional public benefit. Both bids were less than the $3,231 owed to the city in unpaid taxes.

Several Belfast officials remarked that the number and amounts of bids for the tax foreclosures were higher than at any time in recent memory. In 2017, Belfast received a total of 21 bids for 10 properties with none surpassing $15,000, as compared with 24 bids for four properties this year and a high bid of more than $40,000.