May 15, 2014WOLFEBORO — At their May 7 meeting, Wolfeboro selectmen approved contract assessor Todd Haywood's recommendations on 17 abatements filed by property owners on Winnipesaukee Drive and Knight's Pond Road in the Winnipesaukee Estates subdivision off Route 28 in South Wolfeboro.
Nine of the abatements were denied and eight were approved, but at values less than requested.
The abatement requests followed a failed attempt by residents to petition the town to take over the subdivision and upgrade the poorly constructed subdivision roads. On July 17 last year 20 property owners in the subdivision petitioned the town to take over the private roads and upgrade them to town standards. All of the 22 property owners in the subdivision are also suing the developer, B & H Development, over the state of the roads.
It is not clear why the planning board, in accepting the subdivision as complete in 1991, failed to discover how poorly constructed the roads were.
Selectmen agreed to evaluate the roads and come up with an estimate of the upgrade cost which, by petition, the property owners would pay for through a "betterment assessment," an additional charge on their property taxes, payable over 10 years. The town did evaluate the road and came back in October with an estimated cost to upgrade the roads of $1,122,000.
At a subsequent public hearing on Nov. 20, selectmen accepted the petition and prepared to put the proposal on the March 2014 warrant, but the developer, who owns 24 of the 46 lots, filed a petition within the required 10 days objecting to the betterment assessment. The developer was willing to have the town upgrade the roads but, as majority lot owner, was not willing to pay for the work. The warrant article was then withdrawn.
In denying nine of the abatement requests, Assessor Haywood looked at three sales in the subdivision – two from 2009 and one from 2013 – and concluded that, despite the poor state of the roads, the assessed values were correct in all 17 cases. In five of the nine denials the assessments went up by $500 to $8,000 as features not recorded were added during inspections.
All eight abatements granted were due to data corrections only and ranged from $1,100 to $14,900.
At last report the property owners' suit against the developer over the state of the roads was still in process.