Board of Civil Authority Meeting Minutes: June 27, 2018

Present: Carol Hesselbach, Marion Dowling, Richard Marek, Priscilla Cotton, Apple Gifford, Listers: Doris Knechtel, Frank Suponski, Dennis Wiswall, Appellant: Beckley Gaudette, her sister Carol, Attorney Samuel Angell

Priscilla Cotton, Chair, called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. She stated that his hearing was regarding the Sunny Meadows Trust et al Appeal of appraisal for Current Use penalty. She then administered the oath to the Appellant’s Attorney and the Listers. Frank Suponski arrived a few moments later and the oath was administered to him.

Doris Knechtel described the property as a subdivision of 50.7 acres of wooded land with no buildings and explained that the Listers were required by statute to value the property being removed from Current Use as if it were a stand-alone parcel, The Listers used the Town land schedule for valuing bare land and determined a value of 118,809.00 which the State would use to determine the penalty for removing the land from current use. The penalty is 10% of the full market value. The Listers were assisted by their District Advisor in determining the value.

Dick Marek asked why the appeal is timely because it wasn’t filed last year during the appeal period. Doris explained the timely. Dick asked when the property was withdrawn from current use. Answer was in May. Attorney Angell explained the new procedure and that it was due to people taking advantage of the prior procedure.

Priscilla then invited Attorney Samuel Angell to describe his client’s position. He handed out a legal memorandum and exhibits. He thanked Doris for all her work with the Pinelands Trust and reconfiguring of the property into new lots. Owners of this Lot agreed to sell 50.7 acres to the Berries who own adjacent land. The purchase and sale agreement included the requirement that this would be immediately merged into the Berries’ so as to not create a new lot and only be a lot line adjustment. The property sold for $40,000 and they believe that the $40,000 should be the full market value. Then he said that there could not be 2 housesite values on a parcel and that there was no separate parcel established. This is a landlocked parcel and that was not considered in the valuation.

Apple asked if David Berrie now owns the parcel and was told yes.

Listers were invited to rebut. Doris indicated that she was required to value it as a stand alone parcel. Once the land was added to David Berrie’s land it does have access. Agreed that the Listers would suggest that they could use some land influences to deduct 30% of the value of the first 2 acres for no water and access. Sam Angell stated that part of the issue here is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t value it as a stand alone parcel and then say it has access because it merged with David Berrie’s land. He believes that the law only applies if a separate parcel was actually created.

Frank explained that the attorney was incorrect when he said that there could not be two 2 acre values for housesites on a parcel since Frank himself has a parcel with two 2 acre housesite values set aside from current use.

Priscilla opened the meeting to questions from the board,

Dick explained the case that the board used previously in determining value. The case indicates that if there was an arms-length transaction selling the property then that price is the fair market value. Discussion of whether the definition of arms-length transaction requires the property to be advertised. Dick does not believe it does. Doris said the Listers were following the law. Dick asked if the new law superseded the court case. Sam Angell read the applicable portion of the law and discussed it. Doris asked about the negotiations re the sale. Beckley Alley Gaudette, one of the property owners, was sworn in. She explained that the meeting with David Berrie four years ago was meeting with him as a Realtor but he was not interested in purchasing it.

Carol wanted to make a comment about the fact that the memorandum from the appellants argued that the hearing was not timely and therefore their value should be accepted. She explained that, contrary to what the memorandum said, there was an automatic extension of the time to schedule the hearing so that there was actually a period of 44 days to schedule and begin the hearing, not 14 days.

Sam Angell brought up the fact that the rest of the parcel, more than twice the acreage of the parcel under discussion, recently sold for less than the value given to this 50.7 acres.

Dick asked that, since the parcel is just deep woods, would Counsel be willing to agree on the record that they waive the site visit normally required. He explained to his client and they waived the site visit.

Dick made a motion that the Board go into Executive Session. Seconded. No discussion. Room was cleared.

Board came out of Executive Session. Called everyone back into the room and announced their decision that the $40,000 sale price is the fair market value that should be used for determining the current use withdrawal penalty.

Richard Marek moved to adjourn the meeting.
Seconded by Marion Dowling.
All were in favor. Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted by,

Carol Hesselbach, Recording Clerk of the BCA