June 23, 2018
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Cushing board rejects abatement requests by dozens of residents

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

CUSHING, Maine — The town’s board of assessors has denied a request by dozens of residents of high-end waterfront properties for a 55 percent reduction in their assessments.

“The board rejected the request because we found they had not proved the assessments were manifestly wrong,” said Assessors Board Chairwoman Evelyn Kalloch.

The vote was 3-0 on Sept. 6 to reject the abatements, she said.

The residents can appeal to the town’s assessment appeals board, Kalloch said. Attorney Alton Stevens, who represented many of the property owners, was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

If granted, the abatements would cost the town $116,000 in property taxes for last year alone.

The properties are within three developments — Hornbarn Hill, Gaunt Neck and Meduncook Plantation. The residential subdivisions were created in 2005-2006 by developer James Tower. The developments were controversial and the town and Tower clashed in court over a variety of issues.

Stevens had argued in an early June meeting before the board that there was no market for the properties for a series of reasons and that the assessments were dramatically too great.

A sizable portion of the abatement is being sought by Machias Savings Bank, which took ownership of undeveloped lots in the subdivisions through foreclosure.

The property owners claim the properties need to be reduced in value by nearly $9 million. Machias Savings Bank has requested that its properties be reduced in value by more than $2.5 million.

The abatement request is for 2011 property taxes. Many of the same owners lost their request for a 20 percent abatement for 2010 and filed a lawsuit in March in Knox County Superior Court. The abatement would cost the town about $50,000 if the property owners prevail in that still-pending case.

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