Town Settles Tax Dispute With Sarah’s Trace Homeowners For $70,000

by | Jul 15, 2014

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50 Sarah’s Trace. Credit: New England Revaluation

The Town Council voted Monday night to approve a settlement with three property owners on Sarah’s Trace that reduces their property tax bills by 50 percent over four years (2013-16). The cost to the town will be around $70,000 – the exact cost won’t be determined until the tax rate is set for fiscal year 2016. Included in the settlement, the town agreed to pay up to $8,000 in legal fees and court costs.

The vote was 3-0, with President Michael Isaacs, Michael Kiernan and Mark Gee voting. Brad Bishop was absent and Jeff Cianciolo recused himself.

The property owners – Susan and Christopher Lamendola, Thomas Hogan and Cynthia Pelosi, and Keith and Wendy Amelotte – had argued their houses were damaged and should be assessed at zero.

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40 Sarah’s Trace. Credit: New England Revaluation

In a separate action, the property owners are suing the town, the school department and various construction-related companies over what they say is the damage done to their houses during construction of the new Cole Middle School, citing cracks in the foundations and walls of their houses and other property structures. The school was constructed between 2009 and 2011.

The residents first appealed their tax assessments in 2012. The revaluation company visited each of the houses and, taking into account the cracks seen during the visits, the company deemed the Lamendola and Hogan/Pelosi houses to be in “poor” condition and the Amelotte house to be in “fair” condition. Both classifications allow for a 20 percent depreciation in the assessed value of the buildings on the property, but the property owners appealed the decision to the town Board of Assessment Review. Before the appeal was heard, however, the two sides decided to try negotiation. The settlement voted on Monday is the result of that negotiation.

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35 Sarah’s Trace. Credit: New England Revaluation

“We thought it was in the best interest of the town to settle this,” said Council President Michael Isaacs on Tuesday. “If we didn’t think it was reasonable for us to enter into this settlement, we wouldn’t have done it.”

Chris Lamendola had no comment.

The assessed values (with the 20 percent depreciation) of the three properties are:

  • Lamendola, 50 Sarah’s Trace – $501,700
  • Hogan/Pelosi, 40 Sarah’s Trace – $400,100
  • Amelotte, 35 Sarah’s Trace – $435,800

Property taxes for the years in the settlement are:

  • Lamendola – $11,158 (FY ’13); $11,489 (FY ’14); $11,669 (FY ’15); [unknown] (FY ’16)
  • Hogan/Pelosi – $8,898 (FY ’13); $9,162 (FY ’14); $9,306 (FY ’15); [unknown] (FY ’16)
  • Amelotte – $9,692 (FY ’13); $9,980 (FY ’14); $10,137 (FY ’15); [unknown] (FY ’16)

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3 Comments

  1. Maddawg

    Will the decision to provide a tax concession now be reversed, given the judge has dismissed most of the charges brought by these homeowners? It frosts me that the resulting tax burden is being redistributed to the rest of us.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      The jury has not returned a verdict yet and there has been no discussion about the tax concession.

      Reply
  2. EG Attorney

    I was told that the tax settlement was a settlement from a filed lawsuit so if a signed agreement was consummated by the Town there is no going back. Maddawg if you are “frosted” by the tax burden I would call up ALL your friendly elected officials and ask them why they allowed these homes to be damaged in the first place…..I’m sure you would appreciate a reduction if your home was damaged from a town project. No?

    Reply

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