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Recent property revaluation results in 11 appeals

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KENT—The recent property revaluation boosted property assessments an average of 31.43 percent, bringing the Grand List to $827,742,580. While increasing values would appear to be a boon to homeowners, the dramatically escalating valuations also bring fears of increased taxation.

“It’s always a double-edged sword,” said First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer. “‘The value of my house has gone up—but wait, what will that do to my taxes?’ If you want to sell because the value of the house went up, everything else has gone up, too. Right now, the availability of real estate is almost nil.”

Realtor David Bain said that it is that very scarcity of inventory that will dictate market prices and not the town’s valuation. “We do look at that, but it doesn’t affect real estate sales,” he said. “Scarcity has a great deal to do with the price of homes. We usually have 20 to 30 houses for sale in Kent. Right now, we have five. I listed a house for $425,000 a few days ago and by the weekend it will disappear. The market right now is healthy.”

So healthy that it has become a matter of concern for town officials, business owners and others. “It’s definitely a concern,” said Lindenmayer. “That is what we are trying to do with affordable housing. It’s on my mind every day and we work with KAH to see where we can expand that. It has to be a public-private partnership to bring more affordable housing to the town.”

The current revaluation brought a flurry of appeals from the assessments. After hearings and investigatory visits to the sites, the Board of Assessment Appeals decided the fate of 11 appeals Monday night.

Of the 11, two received reductions. Karen Asnes, 187 Kent Cornwall Rd., had received a 49 percent increase in her valuation. “I don’t think her neighbors in the graveyard have seen that increase,” quipped BAA Chairman Rufus de Rham, alluding to a standard of comparing recent sale prices in a neighborhood when deciding value. The board voted to reduce her assessment from $274,600 to $254,400. 

Steven Cooper, 38 Cobble Road, whose land was valued at $2,637,000, did not appear at his hearing and his appeal was denied. Similarly, Matthew Sipple, 77 Spectacle Ridge Road, did not appear and was denied.

Matthew and Bonnie Harris, 2 Bald Hill Road, asserted a number of factors they thought reduced the value of their house, but the board members checked sale values in the area and found their increase of 35 percent was average. Their appeal was denied, leaving the assessment at $422,000.

Claire Irving, 39 Treasure Hill Road, wanted the classification of her modern contemporary home changed to something else. “After talking to the assessor, I agreed no other category would fit,” said de Rham. “If we changed it to ‘custom,’ it would have increased the value and ‘conventional’ would have stayed the same. Her appeal was denied, and the assessment remains at $556,600.

Andrew Osborne,160 Macedonia Rd., found his valuation increased 43 percent to $793,600. After a site visit the board agreed that was excessive. They reduced the description from “very good” to “good,” dropping the valuation to $738,200, a 33 percent increase.

Bruce and Cathy Osborne, 23 Sugarloaf Mountain Road, who contested valuations on three lots, failed to prove their case. While they have some chickens, a horse and a cow on the plots, they failed to provide the supporting evidence for their farming activities, resulting in some dramatic increases for the three lots. All three were reclassified as “vacant residential.”

One of the lots increased from a farm valuation of $200 to $62,600, while a house on a second parcel increased in value from $169,700 to $253,000.

At 24 and 28 Berkshire Road, Kevin and Elizabeth Place argued that their appraised value (not the assessment value) should be $585,000 rather than $748,000 if compared to home sales in the region. They made the same argument for their second house, wanting the appraised value to be reduced from $430,000 to $398,600. The BAA decided the other homes in the area were smaller and their sales data did not pertain. 

The Rafferty Family Trust, 8 Berkshire Rd., asserted they did not use town services, that the land was on a private road and that a farm smells. Their appeal was denied and the assessed value remains at $479,300.

Carla Shere questioned the assessment of her 8 Sumner Road cottage, which rose in value from $122,800 to $161,400. “We found that the assessed value increase was well below average,” de Rham said and the board denied the appeal.

De Rham said the Board of Assessment Appeal’s job is to ensure equity for neighborhood homeowners.

Kathryn Boughton
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