December 24, 2013 —
Lots on a private road are worth substantially more than those same lots if the road suddenly becomes public. That’s the view of just about all parties involved in a tax appeal regarding 34 lots in the Chapin Estate.
In January 2012 a court ruled that owner of the development must allow the public to travel to a recreation area on the Toronto Reservoir, and in May 2013, an appeals court upheld that decision. The road in question, which had been blocked and private, suddenly became open to the public.
The company, called Woodstone Lakes, owns 34 lots on the road, and they hired appraiser Brian Roeder to determine the value of the lots, which he determined was substantially lower than the value determined by the town assessor. The town assessor had placed a value on the properties while the road was still private.
At the Bethel town board meeting on December 11, supervisor Dan Sturm said Roeder is normally the appraiser the town hires in connection with tax appeals, but because he had been hired by Woodstone Lakes, the town could not use his services in this matter.
Sturm said the town could hire a third assessor for an opinion about the value of the lots, but he noted that even if the town did that, and took the matter to court, the judge might side with Roeder’s view.
Sturm also read a proposed settlement to the matter, which was that the town would accept a value of 120% of the value of the lots as determined by Roeder for 2012, and 110% of the value for 2013.
Because the taxes have already been paid on the parcels for the two years, this would result in the town giving back $15,000 in taxes for 2012 and $16,100 in 2012.
There would also be a loss in taxes to the county, the school district as well as the ambulance, fire and library districts.
Sturm said he thought it was a fair settlement, as did town attorney Rob McEwen, and both urged the council members to vote in favor.
Sturm added that there is an account that was funded by a bond of $125,000 a few years ago to pay for a settlement of another lawsuit involving Chapin Estate, and there was enough money in that account to cover the cost of this settlement without impacting the town’s budget next year.
The board voted unanimously to accept the proposed settlement.
Farewell to Frangipane
Members of the board and the public took time to say a few words of praise for council member Denise Frangipane, who was attending her final meeting as a board member. Frangipane decided not to run for another term last fall and said she would be spending more time in her duties as “mommy,” and taking on other challenges.
She said, “I feel very fortunate to live in a country where we have the opportunity to serve… and I feel more grateful that we live in a community where your service can really be seen to make a difference. No matter what you do, whether you serve on a board, or as a firefighter, or business owner, you really can see the difference in a small community. And that’s why I so badly wanted to come back to Bethel, and I’m really glad to still be here.”