Is the Watch Tower giving out loans?
I originally posted this on the Reddit ExJW subreddit on 7 Feb 2017. I think it's worth revisiting.
In 2008, they borrowed $1.87 million from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, the legal arm of the Jehovah’s Witnesses group, to start the project. The loan was secured by the Gimpl Hill property.
However, with the onset of the Great Recession, real estate development slowed to a halt in many areas, including Lane County. Haffner and Johnson were unable to make payments on the loan and defaulted, according to property records.
For an undiclosed sum, the Watch Tower group transferred its security in the property to Carver in September 2013, according to property records. Several days later, Haffner and Johnson handed the land over to Carver in lieu of foreclosure, according to records.
wow.. this is really interesting. What could the WT have to do in funding residential development?
I've seen this somewhere before but don't remember where. Maybe here somewhere, but my searching failed me.
It is quite curious.
I found some background on the property:
owners - Wesley H. Haffner Revocable Living Trust & Juanita R. Haffner Revocable Living Trust
And the 2007 court order allowing subdivison of the property:
StarTrekAngel: What could the WT have to do in funding residential development?
I wonder if the WTS was actually funding the property development or if the property was being held in trust for the WTS. Could the land have been willed or given to the WTS in some way through the Haffner's Revocable Living Trusts? Such that the WTS was actually the owners of the property at the time that they were named as "funding" the development?
* adding more thoughts:
The land ended up being divided up into 9 parcels of land that sold for around 200-250,000 each. Which would make the total sale of all the land parcels right up there around the same as the 'loan" from the Watchtower was claimed to be. I think the "loan" is just the value of the property and the WTS was willed or given the land by the Haffners. This looks like it could be a scheme to transform an estate or trust, that is a land holding, into a cash amount for the WTS.
Doing some more digging...reading...
Yes. Both Wesley and Juanita died after 2007.
Wesley died in 2010 at the age of 96. His wife, Juanita, died in 2012 at the age of 94.
Dr. Wesley H. Haffner of Albany, formerly of Lane County, died Feb. 17 of age-related causes. He was 96. A private family service is planned.
He was born Sept. 4, 1913, in Clinton, Mo., to Gottfried and Katherine E. Ehrlich Haffner. He married Juanita Sperling July 18, 1939, in Boise.
He was a company doctor in Westfir from 1941 to 1945, worked at the Medical Dental Clinic from 1947 to 1960, and at Westmoreland Medical Dental from 1960 to 1979.
Survivors include his wife; three daughters, Carolyn Cahors of Albany, Janet Marie of La Grande and Lisa Johnson of Boring; three sons, Dr. David Haffner of Albany, Mark Haffner of Providence, R.I., and Roger Haffner of Corvallis; and 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Yes. The land was likely gifted to the WTS upon the death of the two very elderly owners.
David Haffner and Lisa Johnson were the two who were "unable to make their loan payments" and then the WTS turned around and "sold their security" to someone else. A Roy Carver. Who still owns the Vineyards on Gimpl Hill Road.
Strange. Something fishy. Smells funny.
Who was really behind the court actions and applications in 2007 to get the land subdivided? The actual owners were very elderly and well past the age of being able to bring that type of action through the courts at that time. Old Doctor Wesley was 93 in 2007 and living in a nursing home. Was it their two children, David and Lisa? And who were they? What connection to the WTS did they have?
This gets even more interesting.
The land in question fell under Measure 37 and Measure 49 in Oregon
Apparently, these two land measures were controversial land acts that affected large swathes of land in Oregon. Property values were affected - the owners of land in question could ask for compensation from the State for not being able to subdivide their land or, in lieu of a cash settlement, the State could grant the owner the right to subdivide land that was previously protected.
The Haffner land was one of those blocks of land that fell under those measures but those measures affected many land owners.
Something else that is interesting. According to the document I linked to above, Roy Carver was involved in this land deal long before the WTS "sold", to Carver, their security in the "loan" that they had "given" to Haffner and Johnson.
I am thinking that the land in question was important to the WTS for reasons that go beyond just that land parcel itself. The measures that were brought into play in order to subdivide this land (owned by two frail, elderly people in their 80s/90s) could very well have been important for other land parcels that the WTS has interest in as well.
I am thinking that this "loan" that the WTS forked out (sort of) had to do with supporting first, Measure 37 and then later, Measure 49 - under which the loss that the Haffner were claiming was close to half a million dollars which allowed them to claim a subdivision in lieu of a cash payout. Ten lots were allowed which gave them 9 lots for sale (the original home was on one lot which had been built in 1966 - building permit history is someplace online and I forgot to save it)
And, who is this Roy Carver that was involved in this affair from the beginning - he was named as agent for the Haffners in 2007 - and he was the one who ended up with the land (the security "sold" to him by the the WTS and the land "turned over" to him by the children of the deceased Haffner couple) which then was turned into the "Vineyards on Gimpl Hill Road"?
And for some more background on the Measure 49, I found the appraisers CV online in which he describes his role in Measure 49 (he appraised the Haffner land):
Mr. Thompson is a specialist in Pacific
Northwest Coast property valuations. In 2009 Mr. Thompson was part of a team that
obtained the first Measure 49 approval in the state of Oregon. Subsequently, three other
Measure 49 approvals were approved based on the appraisal analysis prepared by Mr.
Thompson. There were more than 7,000 Measure 49 claims issued to the State of Oregon,
and less than 10 of these were approved. Measure 49 was a tax measure that allowed land
owner’s to develop residential lots on properties that were zoned F-1, F2 (farm forest) and
EFU (exclusive farm use) land if it could be proven that at some point in the past, the
historical zoning allowed such a use. In Lane County, most property was un-zoned until Goal
4. This land use was enacted in 1974. The model conceived by Mr. Thompson was based
on performing a retroactive appraisal one year prior to this date, and one year after. The
value difference (loss in value as a result of zoning enactment) was updated thru time by the
Treasury bill rate, was offset by the amount of taxes paid compared to the amount that would
have been owed assuming residential zoning, and then compared to the value today,
assuming the property could be developed into a single family residential subdivision with a
maximum of 10 lots (Measure 49 capped the number of lots on a single contiguous land
parcel at 10 lots). If the updated damages over time were sufficient, the measure allowed for
the development of a maximum of 10 new residential lots.
In among all the players and characters involved in this land parcel deal, there must be JWs floating around. JWs involved in real estate and concerned with land values in Oregon. Who are the JWs who have real estate concerns in Oregon?