A two-year legal battle between the city of Rockland and Ocean State Job Lot came to a close Monday night when city councilors unanimously approved a settlement agreement on the assessed value of the company’s Route 1 property.
As part of the settlement, Rockland must pay back about $100,200 in taxes paid by Ocean State Job Lots. The agreement will help the city avoid spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” on further litigation that might not result in the city’s favor, City Manager Tom Luttrell said in a letter to city councilors.
The settlement agreement reduces the assessed value of the Ocean State Job Lots’ Rockland property to $4,385,200.
The New-England based retailer filed an abatement application with the city of Rockland in January 2015, disputing the city’s assessed value of the property, which the company had recently purchased from Wal-Mart. Rockland had valued the property at $5,885,200, while Ocean State Job Lots argued it should be valued at the $3,125,000, the price the company purchased the property for.
After the Rockland Board of Assessment Review upheld the assessed value placed by the city assessor in 2015, Ocean State Job Lots appealed to the State Board of Property Tax Appeals.
Prior to the sale of the Rockland property, Wal-Mart had moved to a new location in Thomaston. When Wal-Mart sells a vacated site, they place use restrictions on the properties to prevent a competitor from moving in, Luttrell said in the letter. These restrictions, which prevent new inhabitants from selling groceries among other caveats, can reduce the value of the property.
“We’re not happy about it,” Councilor Valli Geiger said Monday, expressing frustration that Wal-Mart can place such restrictions on the sale of a property that would devalue the location.