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03-08-08 Minutes
March 8, 2008

The Board of Assessment Appeals met on Saturday, March 8, 2008.  Members present were Stephen Palmer, Betty Richards and David Harma.  The meeting was called to order at 8:55 a.m.

The following appeals were heard by David Harma.

Mr. Deciantis showed a map showing mostly wetlands on the property and everything else is steep.  He also showed pictures.  The only use to the land would be to sell to an abutter.  The property is useless.  He never tried to get a building permit.  He has a letter from Ed Piver stating the property would be very difficult to build on.

RICH, DORIS – 146 Cove Rd.
This waterfront property is shallow water and is polluted; they can’t shellfish there.  There are two bridges to deal with and sometimes you can’t get a boat out.  It is in a low rent district of Cove Road.  Some of the houses are run down.  Many of the houses in the area have been on the market for less than the assessment and they are not selling.  They feel the house prices are down 8% - 9% according to the Wall Street Journal.  The biggest issue is that there is a registered sex offender in the neighborhood.  They feel they couldn’t sell a four bedroom house with a sex offender just south of their property.  They were asked if they had an appraisal done and they said no.

South Broad Street
Mr. Epstein submitted an appraisal for the properties as a whole.  This is an old building.  It was built in 1946.  Pawcatuck Roofing in constantly doing work on the roof for constant leaks.  He is also having to fix the paving often.  He feels such a large building would be hard to sell.  There has been a slow down in traffic which means he has to spend more money on advertising.  The building with Twist in it is currently up for sale.

They feel the assessment should be based on use.  This is a strictly seasonal rental property due to the condition of the property.  He can’t get sewer line insurance because the property is seasonal.  Number five has a caveat in the deed stating that they can’t build on the front 50 feet in southwest corner of the property.  His season is only 10 weeks long.  He receives $1,005 per week for one house.  The property has flooding issues.  No appraisal has been done for the property.

CROWLEY, MICHAEL & ANN – Schiller Avenue.
The Crowley’s and Atty. Mark Kepple appeared before the Board.  All the property is wetlands and mostly underwater.  In 1975 they received a permit to fill.  The fill was man made materials.  In 2007 they received a letter from a soil specialist with regards to a septic system for the property.  The fill on the property must be in natural existing soil which they do not have.  They feel they should be assessed as a non-buildable lot (excess land only).  They compared their property to the Faulise property next door which is assessed much less.

SHAH, UMANGLAL – 2 Michelle Lane
They had a home equity loan for refinancing and had a full appraisal done.  They forgot to bring it to the meeting and will submit it at a later date. They feel they have $100,000 in equity and they owe $50,000.  With an 80% loan to value rate they are over assessed.  There have been many sales in the area and prices are dropping all over in the last 1 ½ years.  Next door sold for $300,000 per Zillow and it is a corner unit.

Mr. McCauley stated that Tom Switz told them he would list the properties for less than the Vision value.  They hired Miner & Silverstein to do an unbiased appraisal on the properties to discover if they had an appeal.

38 Cove Road
There is no water or sewer.  Boats are size restricted because of the two bridges.  They submitted their appraisal.

50 Cove Road
Their arguments are the same as 38 Cove Road.  They submitted their appraisal.

This is land only and not waterfront.  It has a restricted view and they want to keep it as open.  Lot 5B was on the market for one million for 1 ½ years; it is now listed for $750,000.

48 Cove Road
This has the same problems as their center lot.  No waterfront access.  This is a non-conforming, pre-existing lot with an 1840 house.  This is not an historic house; it was moved from the Edgemere property to build the mansion.  The house is in rough shape and the floors are not level.  Tom Switz rents this house for them.  They compared their property to the other side of Cove Road.  The only sale during the time period was Hantman for $700,000 +/-.

TOFT, ROBERT & JOYCE – 104 Latimer Point Road
Their assessment has more than doubled and they haven’t done anything to the property.  They receive no town services.  They have three 1,000 gallon tanks for water.  They have electric heat.  They are on the bayside, not the ocean.  Their water is shallow and muddy at low tide.

BERNHARD, INGRID – 25 Niles Road
Ms. Bernhard feels the increase in five years is too high.  She should not be compared to a “gated community” that has a yacht club.  There is a right of way on the property for access to a dock.  The 804 square feet deck is no longer there; there is now a pool.  The deck was removed to put in the pool.  The pool is not finished yet.  She feels there should be more depreciation on the house.  They know the value has gone down since she purchased the house.  There is no deep water and a view of the cove only.  They compared the sale of the corner lot on Old North Road for $350,000.

The island has limited access.  A lot of access depends on the tide and the weather.  It is a seasonal location only.  The market is extremely low for an island.  It was bank owned and the bank couldn’t sell it for four years.  The bank took a loss to sell it.  You can not compare to Dodge Island which is larger and much nicer.  They keep their property very simple.  Dodge Island has an easement on their property and has tapped into their electric.  They have to carry in water.

8 Gledhill Avenue
The land is a salt marsh.  They are at sea level.  There is just enough land to park their cars.  They were denied by the Town and the DEP to build a garage on the property. That area of the cove is a seeded clam bed.  People park along their property and walk along their property for access.  That is a liability for their property.  They showed pictures from their camera of their property.

MYSTIC MOTOR INN INC – Multiple properties
Michael Leone represented Mystic Motor Inn. Inc.   They are approximately 15  acres.  They are a good distance from downtown.  The traffic is a distraction to the property.  The hotel market is currently saturated.  The percentage of increase on the property seems very high for a five year period.  He stressed consideration on 7 and 9 Williams Avenue.  There was no appraisal submitted.

FEENEY, PAUL & VALERIE – 295 Taugwonk Road
The major complaint is on the structure primarily.  The house is old and the interior is very 1970’s.  It has sprayed ceilings.  It would need $75,000 - $100,000 in upgrades to bring up to value.  They are across the street from a commercial/industrial park which wants to increase the use.  They get water in their basement and have wetlands in the back of the property.  They have a right of way through the property.  They compared their house to recent sales at 37 River Crest, 6 Lindsey Lane and 181 Greenhaven Road.

CARON, WILFRED J. TRUSTEE – 208 North Stonington Rd.
Atty. Anderson represented the trust.  They appealed last year and received a reduction.  This property has a conservation easement on the property.  The value of the property hasn’t changed  between 2002 and 2007.  This property can only be used for recreation.

STEWART, LAURA, MICHAEL & BONNIE – 161 Pawcatuck Avenue
The appeal is on the house.  There have been no updates.  The house is 55 years old.  They would need $35,000 - $40,000 in updates to make it marketable.  It is not in good shape and everything is original.  We are 8th in foreclosures in the country.

156 Pawcatuck Avenue
This is a very small house.  It has no tub; only a shower.  It has an unfinished basement and attic.  It’s only a two bedroom.

Map 26  Block 1 Lot 7
Encroachment limits the access to the property.  The public road stops in front of this lot.  They access area has a sewer pump and an overflow tank and an electric panel located all on their property.  They feel all these factors devalue the property $15,000.

Map 26 Block 1 Lot 4
This lots assessment went up a lot.

Mystic Workshop LLC (Nancy Hevenor) – Personal Property
Atty. Neal Bobruff represented Nancy Hevenor.  This was a computer consulting work.  She only worked in 2006 and nothing in 2007.  All she had was a Dell laptop purchased for $1,200.  She retired in 2006.  The official paperwork to dissolve the business was not done until January 2008; however, she was not in business as of October 1, 2007.

Betty Richards heard the following appeals:

The Mitchells are looking for a reduction of value on both the house and land portion of their property. They feel that the proximity of their property across the street from the Holy Ghost Society devalues their property due to increased traffic, noise, smell and increased fire risk. They noted that 85 and 87 Water Street have been for sale for a long time but have not sold because of proximity of PHGS. They stated that their property is liable for its share of the tax abatement given to the Holy Ghost Society; which they feel increases their tax burden while devaluing their property.

Ms. Provost feels the land assessment is too high and would like to see the total appraised value of the property at approximately $600,000. She said homes in the area have sold from $400,000 - $600,000. Her property has year round use and is part of the Latimer Pt. Condo Association. The property has many use restrictions – it is in a C flood zone, half of the driveway is on condo common zone, pipes come through the property for condo association, they cannot put in a dock because they are on pond side, and because of restrictions they can not improve on their property.

Ms. Panciera feels the value of her property is too high and is looking for a reduction in the assessed value to $172,241.17. Presented a comparison of property values within a 2-mile radius of 67 Palmer Neck Rd based on Vision Appraisals values. Basic average of houses is approximately $26,758.17 or 16% lower than her property. The 59 Palmer Neck property, which is next door to her, is assessed less than her house yet has more land. The increased traffic on road created by the enlargement of the Barn Island State Park and state boat launch reduces the value of her property. She questioned the UST code on the property card in the building sub-area summary portion. She said it is not a utility, storage area just an enclosed roof covering over the outside cellar stairs.

Mr. Richard Winkler is appealing the assessment and fine. He presented a copy of his lease. He stated that his lease expired 9/30/2007 at which time he vacated the premises. He moved whatever furniture and equipment he had to storage in RI. He stated that he had no personal property at that location as of October 1; the value was $0, which is why he did not file.

James Tirrell, who is the new owner of 14 Old Pequot Trail, presented the appeal to reduce the appraised value of the property to bring it more in line with market value. He submitted a current appraisal report and recent sales on the property.  He said the lot that the main house is on and the separate building lot is one piece of property and was bought together as one piece. He had been told that the properties were merged into one. He is looking to reduce the appraised value of the combined properties to $270,000.

The Browns are looking to bring the assessment in line with actual market value of property. They purchased the home in December 2007 for $370,000. Presented copies of their purchase agreement, deed, and comparable sales in the area, some which have more square footage. They are looking to reduce the total appraised value of the property to $370,000.

Mr. St Rock is disputing the appraised value of the residential outbuildings. On the property card under OB-Outbuilding & Yard Items is listed a SPL2 Vinyl/Plastic outbuilding with appraised value of $7,100. He said he paid $1,000 ten years ago for the CoverIt all weather shelter. The dimensions are 14 x 28 x 8’ high. It is not a wood shed with vinyl siding. He supplied documentation to show that a 14 x 28 (x12’) Cover-It all weather shelter would cost $1,399 new. He would like his assessment be adjusted accordingly with the change of outbuilding value.

Mr. Barry Cunningham of Valuation Research Counseling represented the Waterford Group on this 120-room hotel. He said that the property was overvalued. He presented an income valuation report to support his request for reduction in value. He compared the Comfort Inn to the Best Western, Howard Johnsons and the Days Inn whose room value is lower. He questioned whether consideration was given to the value of personal property and business enterprise value. He is looking to reduce the value of the property to $3.5-$4 million.

Mr. Barry Cunningham of Valuation Research Counseling represented the Waterford Group on this 133-room hotel. He said that the property was overvalued. He presented an income valuation report to support his request for reduction in value. He compared the Residence Inn against the Hyatt and Mystic Hilton hotels whose room value is lower. He questioned whether consideration was given to the value of personal property and business enterprise value. He is looking to reduce the value of the property to $10-$11 million

Mr. Van Winkle is appealing the value of his one-half acres island property. He states that the island has no use and therefore has no value. It is an unprotected island, a potential liability that is all rock located off of Ram Island between Masons Island and Noank. He presented pictures showing how the property is all rock; low pebbly beach provides limited access. Presented pictures showing comparable island owned by Adelaide Van Winkle whose property value was reduced by 90% to approximately $2,200.  That island is closer to the main land and has more useable area than his. He also presented a value estimate given to him by Randall Realtors, which states the value of the property at $500.

Karen Walker is questioning the value of the land, which she thinks is too high. She is looking for reduction of land value to $400,000. She presented appraisal values and sales of comparable properties in the neighborhood. The comparisons show that the properties in the neighborhood are at a lesser value and shows that prices have dropped. She questioned the disparity in land values. She submitted pictures showing how at high tide the water comes into the yard; at low tide can walk across the bay.


Mr. Aiello feels that the increase is out of line with other properties. The vacant lot is a rear lot that has a 62’ right of way. Utilities would have to go in 1,000+ feet making development more costly thereby decreasing the value of the land. Of the 5.42 acres only .42 acres of the back lot could be usable. There is almost 5 acres of wetlands. He doesn’t think the value reflects the constraint on the land. He is looking to reduce the assessed value to $98,000.

This is .09 acres of property that cannot be built on. The Town of Stonington has a right of way though the center of the property and has parking on the land. There is a pipe from the pumping station that runs through the property. He submitted map of property with right of ways and pictures. He doesn’t feel the properties assessed value should increase more than $12,300 - 52.2% from previous assessment.

The Fornara’s are appealing the value of their residential property. They would like to see a $20,000 reduction of the total assessed value. They are basing this on the limited water supply and ruined views since a new house at 57 Cove Rd was built so close to their property line. They presented statements regarding the water supply, pictures of their before and after views and the ongoing correspondence with the Town of Stonington regarding drainage and water problem.

The property is a two family residence. Mr. Swan is appealing the value of the house, which shows a 73% increase. The average had been 60% increase. He questions the cost/market valuation; states that the condition of the dwelling is fair at best, not average. He presented pictures of the condition of the residence that was built in 1966 and has not been updated. He is looking for an assessed value of $189,900.

The Demeer’s would like to lower their assessment to $170,324. They do not understand 54% increase of appraisal when there have been no changes on property. They are questioning the value of the land: property is in a “V” flood zone and subject to prohibitive zoning regulations, area is crowded by marinas and has sewer plant outlet at the mouth of the bay. The property is not on a town-accepted road and is zoned commercial/marina. Presented pictures and an independent appraisal report which states that the appraised value is $300,000.

Mr. Daly’s property is part of the Latimer Point condo association. He is questioning the value of the land. He states that included in his .25 acres lot size is a man made jetty/breakwater of large boulders that renders this portion of his lot not usable. The breakwater artificially increases his lot size and benefits the adjacent condo property owners. He feels he should not be taxed on unusable property. He provided picture of aerial view of property supporting this. Mr. Daly estimates the total appraised value of his property should be $665,000.

Russell Partridge represented Fiddlers Green. The property is a seasonal camp; not residential or commercial. They are appealing the excess valuation of land as compared to abutting properties. The land is used for Sea Scouts, a camp for youth activities. It is not a non-profit organization. There is no water, 2/3 of the property is in a flood zone, and the right of way is in disrepair. The property is not valuable for development or building lot. They presented a detailed map of the property and right of way. They question the disparity of land values and presented a brief comparison of land valuations of abutting properties on River Rd. Taking those properties in consideration they state that their assessment is approximately $190,000 per acre above the average. With minimal waterfront and no direct access, as their deed includes only a non maintained right of way they feel these factors should be considered in lowering their assessment. They are looking to reduce the land assessment to $225,000.


ROSELEAH DR (174/1/3) Mr. Friedrich is appealing the over evaluation of .69 acres of vacant marshland that cannot be built on. He questioned the “C” factor in the land line valuation section of the property card. Why is this property a .05 C factor when the property next door at .19 acres marshland has a .01 C factor. The adjoining lot had very little increase; questions disparity in values. Looking for a reduction to the assessed value to $1,300.

ROSELEAH DR (174/1/4) Mr. Friedrich is appealing the over evaluation of .32 acres of vacant marshland that cannot be built on. He questioned the “C” factor in the land line valuation section of the property card. Why is this property a .05 C factor when the property next door at .19 acres marshland has a .01 C factor. The adjoining lot had very little increase; questions disparity in values. Looking for a reduction to the assessed value to $1,100.

BROADWAY AVE EXT (174/21/2) Residential vacant lot. Mr. Friedrich is appealing the over evaluation of .26 acres vacant land. He is looking for a reduction in assessed value to $77,000. He states that the land warrants a reduction due to the following: commercial marine property abuts lot, noisy area, heavy traffic, garbage, debris, dust from marina’s dirt parking lot.

The following appeals were heard by Stephen Palmer:

SAVOIE, SELINA & PHILIP – 31 Beach Drive
Mrs. Savoie believes their value is too high. It is a small house. They have a detached garage which is on the property across the street. The property is between 2 marinas. A similar house recently sold for less than the Savoie’s assessment. She submitted a copy of her presentation.

SANTOS, JOHONOR – 2 Grandview Park
Ms. Santos feels her assessment is too high. The house needs updating. The cellar is not useable space because it is wet. She questioned the assessment for the “lean-to”, which is really an overhang on the shed. She would like someone to come and do an interior inspection.  She would estimate the value of her property at $154,000.

FALARDEAU, CLAUDE – 11 & 15 Edgemont Street
Mr. Falardeau feels the assessment for his property is too high. He purchased both the real estate and the business for $550,000 and $150,000 of the purchase price was for the business. He submitted pictures of the property and surrounding area. The sewer plant is next door to his property. There are rundown buildings near by.

SIMMONS FAMILY TRUST – 268-270 North Main Street
Rob Simmons, Frank Eppinger & Chris Miner made the presentation for the property.  Mr. Simmons feels the value is too high. Appraisals were submitted. Chris Miner reviewed the appraisal. The land value is a little high but the house assessment is too high. The barn is priced as residential space. The living area upstairs in the barn has no heat and cannot be occupied year round. Land sale comps were also submitted. Mr. Simmons estimated the value at $1,365,000.

SMITH, ROBERT L. – 370 River Road
Carol Smith represented Robert Smith. She feels the assessed value of the land is too high. There are wetlands on the property. She submitted comps of other properties on River Road.

STARWALT, JAMES & MARIANE – 24 Whitehall Landing
Ms. Starwalt stated after their meeting with Vision appraisal the assessment went up. She submitted an appraisal and comps.

TAYLOR, JOSEPH & KAREN – 24 Niles Road
The Taylor’s feel their value is too high. Their property is not located in the gated part of Masons Island. There are no deep water docks. There is a right-of-way on the left side of the property and across the back. Mrs. Taylor felt the land sale on Old North Road for $350,000 was a reasonable comp.

LANCTO RUSSELL – 12 North Shore Way
Mr. Russell believes his assessment is too high. The residence is for seasonal use only. They use small electric heaters when needed. There is substantial ledge on the property.

TUCKER, JOHN & PRISCILLA – 32 East Shore Road
Mr. Tucker feels their value is too high. He would estimate the value to be $150,000. The residence is for seasonal use only. He submitted a letter and comps.

Mr. Avery believes the assessment on his commercial property is too high. He submitted a narrative. Mr. Avery estimates the value of the property at $123, 115.

2X NICE LLC – 19 Roosevelt Avenue
Feels the land is assessed too high. The building appraisal is acceptable. In 2005 the bank appraisal was $290,000 and they paid $275,000 for it. He submitted the appraisal, comps and pictures. He estimates the land value at $108,000.

WHITE OAK FARM – 630 Al Harvey Road (3 parcels)
Scott Cheetham represented White Oak Farm. Mr. Cheetham would estimate the value at $1.4 million for the 3 parcels. He submitted appraisals for all three parcels. The second house on the largest parcel is a guest house.  The 74 acre parcel increased 600%. There are wetlands on the property. Mr. Cheetham does not have a problem with the assessment on the 28 acre parcel.

MAYNARD, ROARK & KAREN – 54 Lathrop Avenue
Mr. Maynard feels his value is too high.  He submitted a 2006 appraisal and comps. The driveway is not paved it is only a gravel driveway. There is limited use in the rear of the property because of the topography.

SHEA, NORMA – 137 Farmholme Road
Ms. Shea believes the value is too high. The land value had a large increase. There is water in the basement and the foundation is cracked.  She submitted pictures.

SPAULDING, RITA – Personal Property
Ms. Spaulding did not believe she should be assessed for personal property because it is a day care center. She reviewed the history of the assessment and her dealings with the town. She did not offer an estimate of value for her personal property connected with her business.

Gustav and Mary Schwab Family Trust and Eplus Group Inc. did not appear for their appointment.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Stephen Palmer