Homeowners from Cushing neighborhood file court appeal on property values

Posted March 30, 2012, at 6:53 p.m.

CUSHING, Maine — Thirty-eight property owners combined to file a court appeal Friday saying the town has placed an excessive value on their properties.

The court challenge was filed in Knox County Superior Court by owners of property in several new subdivisions — Meduncook Plantation, Gaunt Neck and Hornbarn Hill subdivisions — along the Meduncook River. Those subdivisions have been the focus of earlier legal battles between the town and developer.

The appeal filed Friday claims the assessments should be lowered by at least 20 percent. If granted, a 20 percent abatement would require the town to abate at least $53,000 in property taxes to the owners.

The property owners filed their abatement requests March 25, 2011. The assessors rejected the abatements on June 23. The owners then appealed to the town’s board of assessment review on Aug. 31. After several extensions, that board voted 3-2 on March 3 to reject the abatements.

The appeal claims that the decision of the board went against the weight of the evidence, the members of the board misunderstood the burden necessary to prove that the assessors were wrong, and the members mistakenly believed they could not consider anything other than arm’s-length sales and that they could not consider sales that occurred in the latter part of 2010. An arm’s-length sale is one that involves a seller and buyer who have no relationship to each other.

The property owners are represented by attorney Alton Stevens of Waterville.

The town is represented by attorney William Dale of Portland.

The appeal was filed on behalf of the Machias Savings Bank, which owns unsold lots in the subdivisions; David and Diane Anastasio of Topsfield, Mass.; Christopher Bouzaid and Lydia Langston of Newport, R.I.; Peter and Jane Board of Byfield, Mass.; Christopher Burdick and Illyria Puharich of Bedford, N.Y.; Ian and Pamela Cowie of Peaslake, United Kingdom; Gerald and Harise Dorfman of Canton, Mass.; Gaunt Neck Farm LLC of South Freeport; Mark and Cynthia Giroux of Corning, N.Y.; Christine Gray of West Redding, Conn.; Christopher Hoffman and Karen Murphy of Newton, Conn.; William and Deborah Kraft of Toms River, N.J.; R. Craig and Deborah Lord of Morristown, N.J.; Carolyn Morrill of Amsterdam, N.Y.; Jill Nederloff Trust of Corona Del Mar, Calif.; Kathryn and Gerald Nielsen of Kingwood, Texas; James and Jane Nyce of Wilton, Conn.; James and Deborah O’Leary of Newburyport, Mass.; Richard and Julia Palm of Cushing; Gary and Kathryn Simel of Cushing; and Karl Stein and Leah McCabe of Eau Claire, Wis.

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