Board of Civil Authority Meeting Minutes: August 22, 2017

Present: Priscilla Cotton, Richard Marek, Gary Delius, Mary Ann Clarkson, Evelyn Sirois, Apple Gifford, Carol Hesselbach, Bob Crego.  Michael Granger, Joseph McMonagle and Judith Wren, representing themselves and Doris Knechtle and Frank Suponski, representing the listers with their expert witness Matthew Kajeski from the appraisal company, New England Municipal Consultants.

Priscilla Cotton, chair, called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.  She then administered the oath to the Appellants, Listers, and witnesses.

Each member present was introduced by Priscilla.  Richard Marek explained that the Board of Civil Authority was made up of the Selectboard the Justices of the Peace and the Town Clerk.

Michael Granger Appeal.  47 Back Street

Matt Kajeski described the property assessed at $705,000 and the conditions considered by the appraisal.   Previous assessment $801,800.He described the parcel, house and garage with apartment, apartment house, and office building.  Property is on 3 lots.  Home old style, good condition, B-.  Office building used as real estate office.  Average build in good condition.  ¾ bath.  Basement not usable.  Garage building built in 1950s.  Separate apartment building built in 1940’s.  2 Units.  Good condition.  Grievance was denied but lowered from $730,000.

Needed to break property into 3 in order to determine value.  Comparable sales for main house and garage w/apartment.  Comparable for separate apartment building.  Used sales approach for both.  Office building could not use sales comparable, no sales of commercial building.  Comparables for main house and garage. $369,900 value.  Apartment building, comparables tend to be smaller apartments, one has more apartments and a commercial unit.  One has 4 smaller units.  Fair value:  $215,000.  Office buildings – used income approach.  Assume rent in this of $850 per month, tenant responsible for utilities.  $125,100 calculated value.  Added all 3 together for value.

Priscilla then invited Michael Granger to describe his position.  He said he is really grieving the office building portion.  Others might be high, might not be.  Office building cannot be used for residential use.  Tried to explain to Ryan, the other appraiser.  A stone throw’s away, across the street, Winner’s barn, has ¾ bath.  2 car garage plus apartment valued for less.  Passed around a package of comparables and sales, marked as Exhibit A.  Presented information about the other properties.   When he bought it was pre-Internet and there were businesses up and down the street.  Office building on same parcel as house, no extra land, no separate septic.  Other properties would rent for the same or more than they say office building would rent but are valued way under my office building.  Detached building not allowed to be residential under zoning.  The Winner’s barn is heated, twice the size, on Route 30, could be converted to apartment, valued at $52,000. A building rated average with no land, 2 rooms, can’t have a kitchen, unfinished 2nd floor, as an adjunct to primary residence, does not add $125,000 value.  Would for you to at least look at the interior pictures of the Winner barn across the street and the kitchens and baths in buildings valued less than office building.

Matt Kajeski then presented the Listers’ rebuttal.  Apologized because the wording was poor re basement – no basement listed or charged on card.

Apple asked if the $850 rent was hypothetical?  Matt said yes.  Did not mean to imply rental plus use of real estate office.

Discussion about needing to consider full property.

Mary Ann Clarkson asked for clarification on the appraised value because several different numbers were tossed around.

Gary asked what did Michael want the appraisal to be.  Michael said that there is no way the office adds $125,000 in value.  If Court is saying he has to argue the whole property, he can show you a similar or better property that sold for half of total value.

Richard Marek said Court not saying appellant must argue anything but board must consider whole property.

Priscilla explained to Michael that the inspection committee must see all the buildings, that he must provide access.  He said then he needs to give tenants notice by law. Decision made to appoint committee who can decide what they want to see.

Priscilla asked for volunteers to go on the site visit and, Bob Crego, Gary Delius and Maryann Clarkson volunteered. If Gary is unable to attend then Priscilla will be the third member.

Does committee think they need to see the whole property?  Mary Ann said that she thought the committee needs to talk.  Set up inspection for Wed, 30th, 5:00.   They will let Michael Granger know if they want to see other parts of the property.

Mary Ann wanted to emphasize to Michael Granger that there cannot be any discussion at the inspection.  They come back and write a report, present it to the BOA, and those who were at the meeting can then vote on the appraisal.  If unsatisfied, can go to State or Superior Court.  Final stop would be the Vermont Supreme Court.

Michael Granger was thanked for coming in.

Joseph McMonagle and Judith Wren Appeal.   704 Dover Road

Richard Marek questioned why we were reopening the hearing since one was held at the last meeting although the Appellants were not present.  Priscilla explained that the notice was sent to their Pennsylvania address but they did not receive it until after the hearing had been held because they were in Vermont.  Richard agreed that in that case it was fair to give them a chance to present their argument.  He would move that the hearing for the McMOnagle and Wren hearing be reopened because of inadequate notice to the Appellants.  Several seconds.  All in favor.  He asked that the Listers present their information again so that the Appellants would know what was said.  The inspection was done but still treat this as the hearing.

Matt made his presentation for the listers.  The property is valued at $198,000.  Built in about 2003.  It has a B- rating in average to above average condition.  A portion of the second floor is a loft.  1079 sq ft finished area.  Good quality finishes.  He reviewed the comparables that the Listers provided.  Noted that the Listers provided list of equity listings, not sales but grand list values for similar properties, average assessment over $300,000.   Property was purchased in 2012 for $222,000 and that year could have been considered in assessment. The Listers also provided a list of the properties on Dover Road and their assessed values, with an average of $222,952.  Feel this assessed fairly at $198,000.

Priscilla invited Joseph McMonagle to present his argument.  He handed out copies of his letter appealing the assessment.  He thanked the board for allowing him to speak to them.

He provided information about 4 properties that were sold between October 2016 and May, 2017, which he thought were probably comparable to his but sold for less than his assessment.  He also provided a list of properties currently listed for sale.  He said he was struck most by the square footage and sale price.  He assumed the sales were reliable.  His property is small but assessed higher than the comps he provided.  He called a realtor to get the list of comparables.  He thinks the value should be $180,000.

Matt made the Listers’ rebuttal.  Part of the assessment is location and aesthetic.  Also, he felt the board should look at the purchase price in 2012 as an indicator of value.  He would be concerned if the purchase was older, in 2007 or 2008.  This purchase has a strong comparison to value.

Joseph stated that he bought the property 5 ½ years ago and does not think it is relevant.

Matt said sales would be heavily considered.  This is a plus grade home as compared to some of the comparables.

Richard:  You submitted your letter with your suggested comparables on July 13.  Want to be sure the inspection committee had all information when they visited the property. Answer was yes, they had the comparables.

Priscilla asked if there were any other question.

Gary asked was the property on the water?  Answer was that it was before Irene but the river has shifted.

Joseph said the traffic on the road is not a plus.  Nervous walking the dog.  There is a small pond, that may not be a plus.

Matt pointed out that the purchase took place after Irene so the river was in the current condition it is in now.

Gary asked did he think the value should be $180,000.  Said that’s what he came up with from the comparables, based on the sales prices and square footage.

The inspection team will not bother with another inspection but will get together to discuss the property.  Discussion about phone numbers.

Joseph asked if it was correct what Carol told him, that if the appraisal was lowered he could get an adjustment on the taxes paid August 21.  Told he was correct, but that value cold go up.  Dick explained the options for appeal and that each layer was de novo and the result of the appeal at each layer could increase, stay same, or go down.  Explained how the process worked as to possible results.

O’Connor request for rescheduling.  Carol handed out the email sent by O’Connor and letter previously sent.  She explained their misapprehension about the date of the hearing and their representative being unavailable for the 22nd.

Dick was concerned about the requests for rescheduling,  He had never seen any extensions requested before this year, and never saw requests for second postponement when appellant asked for the first rescheduling.  He read his proposed rescheduling letter and suggested that we should establish policy of only granting one postponement and specifying that in letter to be sent to all future requests.  He would grant the 2nd request but wants to set a firm policy that board only grants one rescheduling in the future.  Motion was made and seconded.

Gary was upset by request by O’Connors for a rescheduling.  Carol did not agree that we should not reschedule because the law contemplates that we can grant rescheduling.  She thinks that if we do not give the rescheduled appointment the Town will be in Court.  Dick thinks we can do what we want.  He thinks that in the future we can give due thought to reason they are requesting rescheduling.

Motion restated:  two parts- only grant one rescheduling in the future and send letter laying that policy out when a reschedule is requested.

More discussion.  Doris thinks that both have provided information in writing for the listers grievance and should not give new appointments.  Mary Ann does not believe that our decision will lead to the Town being in Court.  Bob does not think we should ever grant reschedule requests.  Evelyn thinks we should have a policy.  Dick restated his motion, broke it into two.  First motion that the BCA in its sole discretion may grant a new hearing date but will never grant a second reschedule.  Questions to Matt about does he get paid for appearance.  Carol stated that she probably could have sent out a more emphatic first letter that expected to attend hearing or submit it in writing.

Motion:  BCA will grant no more than one rescheduling.  All in favor: Ayes.  Nays-none.  One abstention.

Second motion:  Dick read his letter again.  Seconded by Gary.  Then discussion:  Gary very upset by request for second reschedule by Schneider.  Priscilla also thinks we should not reschedule Schneider again.  General discussion.  Consensus on letter but not grant Schneider a second reschedule.  Discussion as to whether a hearing could be scheduled on September 5. That does not seem to work for anyone.  What about the 30th or 31st.  Schneider expert isn’t available until after Labor Day.  Expert can submit in writing. Discussion to leave it on the 29th.  Priscilla asked for a vote re letter and having hearing on the 29th.  All in favor:  Aye. No nays or abstentions.

Have the report regarding the inspection of 35 Bruce Brook Rd by Evelyn Sirois, Richard Marek and Apple Gifford.  Report was read.  Inspection committee found no errors by Listers. Inspection committee found a VT Supreme Court decision that was relevant.  Committee recommended reducing assessment to purchase price.  Priscilla asked for a motion.  Gary moved the board accept the report as corrected.  Seconded by Evelyn. No discussion.  Asked for all in favor.  Ayes.  No nays or abstentions.

Discussion about scheduling of inspection of Granger property.

Richard Marek moved that the meeting of the BCA be adjourned to August 29, 2017 at 6 PM.  Unanimous agreement.

Respectfully submitted by,

Carol Hesselbach

Recording Clerk of the BCA