WVN #258: Assessment changes in October
- Dear Wayland Voter,
You can expect to hear from assessors in October about any changes in your property evaluation.
Also in this newsletter:
-- Conservation Commission decisions may require notable changes in the plan for the Town Center.
-- Two Aug. 18 meetings on Town Center and assessment matters.
TOWN CENTER PRESENTATION, COMMENT
During the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday Aug. 18, the Town Center developer, Twenty Wayland, will present traffic improvement plans, and Wayland's traffic consultant, TEC, will comment. Public comment will follow.
The session is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. and last until 8:20.
Also Monday, beginning at 7 p.m., the Board of Assessors will review preliminary property values.
EXPECT PRELIMINARY NOTICES IN OCTOBER
Wayland residents can expect to receive notices about new property values from the Board of Assessors after mid-October, vice chair Jayson Brodie told WVN.
Originally the Board had planned to issue impact statements in late August.
On Monday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. the assessors will discuss the revaluation results it has received from its contractor, Vision Appraisal. Towns are required to undergo a revaluation every three years, which involves drive-by inspections of all
This year, the state is emphasizing the importance of proper land valuations.
Residents will receive estimated bills for the second quarter, as usual. What is not known yet is whether the town will be able to issue third quarter bills (Dec. 31) based on the new assessments, which can happen only if the state certifies the town's
assessments. Brodie noted the town has always been able to issue third quarter bills based on the real assessments.
The estimated bills are based on each property's average tax bill paid in the previous year, plus the increases approved at Town Meeting, Brodie explained. The bills also include the community preservation portion.
A meeting to determine the schedule was held Aug. 14 and included Brodie, Bob Martin from the state Deparmtent of Revenue, assistant assessor Molly Reed, as well as a representative from Vision Appraisal. At its regular board meeting Aug. 11,
the Board spent considerable time debating deadlines while awaiting guidance from the state.
The revaluation involved driving by properties to denote relevant factors such as traffic, proximity to high tension wires, topography, etc.
Also, the revaluation is expected to replace neighborhood categories with "micro" neighborhoods that will enable cul de sacs, for example, to be valued differently from properties on a main road. Brodie said the revaluation was done in two phases,
one focusing on 2007 sales, and then the entire town.
It's important to note there is a lag in values. Assessments in Fiscal 2009 will reflect what a home was worth in 2007.
In addition to the revaluation, the assessors' office has completed its cyclical inspections of various properties, including condos and addresses in the middle of the town. Wayland is on a ten-year cycle, the maximum permitted by the state.
The board and staff now review the results from Vision and send revisions to Vision. The revised report goes to the state, which takes a month to review and issue a preliminary certification.
After receiving the preliminary OK, the assessors can issue the impact notices to residents, who then have an opportunity to schedule individual meetings with Vision Appraisal for perceived inaccuracies or other problems. Any changes resulting from
this process are noted, and a revised file is submitted to the state for final certification.
At the Aug. 11 board meeting, board member Susan Rufo questioned how Vision's report dated Aug. 1 could say the field review was 70 percent complete when at a meeting on Aug. 4 the Vision representative told her the field review was 90
percent complete. The field review was supposed to be completed by Aug. 6. Given that there are some 4,000 homes in Wayland, the 20 percent difference would mean 800 properties were reviewed in a very short time (including a weekend).
Reed told the board there had been little change in commercial properties, in part because this had essentially been done last year and there had been very few sales. She did not present the board with the commercial data.
A citizen had inquired whether the size of bathrooms makes a difference in assessment. Reed answered that bathrooms were based on the number of fixtures; three fixtures in a full bath, two fixtures in a half bath, she said. There was no
discussion of how a bath with five or six fixtures is valued.
Chair Bruce Cummings reported there had been several meetings on the request for proposals for the consultant review of the assessors' office. Brodie said he has been involved in reviewing the selection criteria, and hoped to discuss vendor
selection at the next meeting. Town Meeting appropriated funds for a review of the office procedures and accuracy of record cards.
The board has asked Reed to report to John Senchyshyn, the town's assistant town administrator and human resources director, in order to provide consistent job performance oversight. Senchyshyn has made several new procedural
recommendations such as Reed providing to the board in advance of each meeting a director's report as well as an information packet. (Both are standard procedure for a number of boards.)
On the report Reed presented, some board members questioned what seemed like revisionist history, as the Aug. 11 report covered an extensive time period. However, preparing reports for every meeting should solve that problem.
Cummings asked Reed to present at a higher level the status of department activities as "it's hard for me to understand what Molly is doing."
Susan Rufo asked Reed to investigate 180 Oxbow Rd., which sold in 2006 for $2.8 million and in 2008 was assessed at $1.8 million. (Note that 2008 values were based on 2006 sales.) It is now on the market for $3.9 million. Rufo said the record
card does not match the realtor's description. Several residents have asked the assessors in the past how the discrepancy at this property could occur, and never received an answer.
For example, the realtor says approximate living area is 7,200 square feet; the assessors' data says 4,567. For outbuildings, an ad cites patio, inground pool, cabana, barn/stable; the assessed value on these outbuildings is $55,600.
Cummings indicated his displeasure at having the Board meeting filmed, which is entirely legal under the Open Meeting Law and routine for many Wayland officials' meetings. Commenting that it was "offensive," Cummings said the "malcontents of
the world are harassing the process." One of the Board's stated objectives is better communication with the public. The video file may be viewed at the private web site www.wayland.mass.us.
-- Molly Upton
HYPERLINK "http://www.waylandmass.us/Assess/Assess081108.swf" \t "_blank" http://www.waylandmass.us/Assess/Assess081108.swf
HYPERLINK "http://www.waylandmass.us/Assess/Assess081108.mp4" \t "_blank" http://www.waylandmass.us/Assess/Assess081108.mp4
Windows Media Player
HYPERLINK "http://www.waylandmass.us/Assess/Assess081108.wmv" \t "_blank" http://www.waylandmass.us/Assess/Assess081108.wmv
CONCOM WEIGHS IN ON TOWN CENTER
One might adapt the old adage to read "The Town Center ain't over `till the ConCom approves." On the same night Wayland's Planning Board was debating how much leeway to give the developer in the final appearance of buildings at the proposed
$140-million project, the Conservation Commission issued some potentially game-changing directives to the developer, Twenty Wayland.
The Aug. 14 ConCom meeting did not consider any off-site effects of the mixed-use project on Route 20, such as changes to roads.
The process would appear to be out of synch. The Planning Board earlier this year granted the Master Special Permit before Twenty Wayland filed its application with the Conservation Commission. The Planning Board breezed over drainage plans,
aided by a consultant who, when he first appeared, didn't know of the site's contamination, and the second time didn't have the proper elevation information.
At its Aug. 14 meeting, ConCom ruled unanimously that there be no disturbance in the 30-foot wetlands border on all relevant sides, no building or drainage in the 100-foot riverside zone, and that the required "alternate analysis" for the next 100
feet is "inadequate."
The ConCom ruling means the parking lot for a proposed municipal building has to be built somewhere else, and possibly the building itself. The decision may also affect other parts of the plan.
What does this mean in relation to the master permit? Can changes be accommodated after approval, or does the whole thing need to be reconsidered? Stay tuned.
The 30-foot undisturbed vegetated buffer is a town ordinance under chapter 194. The state details strict regulations (310 CMR 10.58(4)(d)) about construction within 100 and 200 feet of a river.
The Commission also noted the application was incomplete and said its practice is to have all required documentation before considering details of a project. ConCom also wants a map of the Raytheon remediation superimposed on the planned
development. Raytheon, the former occupant, is in charge of decontaminating the site.
ConCom is proceeding with determining the scope of work and hiring a consultant to evaluate the plans in detail.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's rejection of CVS plans for a building on Route 20 which had been approved by ConCom is a timely precedent. The DEP letter of June 27, 2008 said, "stormwater management systems
cannot be utilized for compensatory flood storage."
Conservation Administrator Brian Monahan said, "When DEP flags something, we need to pay attention." Members of the commission cited items in the Town Center proposal that were flagged as problematic by DEP during the Massachusetts
Environmental Policy Act review. These include the basin at the northwest corner which appeared to be designed for stormwater as well as flood storage, and the use of unlined retention basins. DEP wants lined retention basins on any site that is
formerly polluted or upgradient of a polluted site. The concern is that water from the basins could cause the groundwater to travel toward the town's Baldwin wells, picking up contaminants along the way.
--- Molly Upton
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor