WVN #280: Tax abatement tips; Chateau suspension
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Most of this newsletter will be about property tax assessments.
If you believe your property is overassessed, you have until Feb. 2 to file for an abatement.
Below you'll find links to video of meetings dealing with assessment anomalies as well as a guide to the abatement process.
Also in this newsletter: The Chateau faces a liquor license suspension and probation.
CHATEAU GETS ANOTHER CHANCE
The Board of Selectmen considered revoking the Dudley Chateau's liquor license but ultimately issued a 28-day suspension and orders to improve management at the venerable watering hole.
Selectman Bill Whitney described a brawl on Dec. 27 as intolerable, like something from the wild west. It wasn't the first reported disturbance at the bar tucked into a residential neighborhood on Crest Road at the eastern edge of Dudley Pond.
Police Chief Robert Irving enlivened a long hearing on Jan. 12 by playing tapes of 911 calls late on the evening of Dec. 27. Wayland residents called State Police as well as local officers. Some calls came from the Chateau.
All three officers on duty at the time responded, leaving the rest of the town with no local police protection for more than an hour. Sgt. Sean Gibbons described a wild scene with 20 or more inebriated people and a ruckus that spilled outdoors and
sent one person to the hospital. He said one man was so intoxicated he bumped into the officer and didn't recognize the uniform.
Neither the owners of the Chateau nor their lawyer showed up for the hearing. Ken Phillips, a lawyer who lives in Natick, was there to answer questions and explain his plan to buy the establishment from Dennis and Pat Sullivan.
Phillips said he had been helping the staff at the Chateau the night of the brawl. Selectmen's questioning indicated that he has much to learn about running the establishment.
As Chief Irving pointed out, bartenders must be trained and certified in intervention procedures and can't continue to serve inebriated customers, the manager listed on the license must in fact be the manager, occupancy limits must be obeyed, and
establishments that are licensed to serve meals must serve meals. The Chateau was found to be deficient in all these areas.
Phillips said the disturbance apparently started among people who knew each other, some of whom had come from outside Wayland and may have been drinking elsewhere.
The suspension runs from Jan. 23 to Feb. 19. The Chateau will then be on probation for three years and must immediately improve management. The Chateau was already on probation for serving alcohol to minors in 2006 and 2007. It owes Wayland
Known to customers as the Chat (pronounced "shat"), the establishment dates to the 1920s, successively a fishing lodge, a speakeasy and a bar and restaurant. Babe Ruth and Ted Williams are said to have been customers.
Under the Sullivans' ownership since the 1980s, the Chat offered hamburgers, chili and the ambiance of a friendly neighborhood bar.
Dennis Sullivan, listed as the manager, suffered a disabling stroke in 2007. Pat Sullivan was working at the Chateau on Dec. 27 and, police said, admitted she had been drinking.
Late last year the Chateau announced plans to do some renovating and attract more local events.
If Phillips buys the Chateau, he will have to apply to the selectmen for a new liquor license.
-- Michael Short
Private websites and YouTube offer video of a Dec. 8 Board of Assessors meeting and consultant Harald Scheid's report on anomalies in Wayland valuations.
Windows Media Player
See also www.WaylandTransparency.com.
APPLYING FOR A PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENT
You have a chance to reduce your property assessments and property taxes by submitting an abatement application to the Assessors' office by Feb. 2.
To qualify for any reduction in assessment, each property owner must file an individual abatement.
Even if you met with the Vision revaluation company in early December, you can try again by filing an abatement application.
This year, there are a couple of changes in the abatement process:
The Board of Assessors will NOT conduct interviews with property owners. They will make their decisions based on information submitted in the abatement applications.
Your submission is final, so be sure you include everything you believe is pertinent for your particular case. You can do "see attached" and attach pages if you need more space. Keep a copy of everything.
Your assessment may have increased because the data on your property (house and land) is not correct and/or there are no sales to document the increase.
KEY RECORDS AND FORMS
1. Copy of your property record card only available from the assessors.
2. Abatement applications and color coded site index maps available at the Assessors' desk as well as online and at the library.
3. 2007 sales information available at the Assessors' desk, online and at the library.
Select homes similar in style to yours (colonial, ranch etc.) and if possible in the same Site Index (SI) as yours. Note that the same site index can occur in other parts of town refer to the color coded map.
4. Property record cards for the 2007 sales are on file at the Assessor's office (50 cents each) with copies available at the library.
Make copies of the cards for the sale homes you selected.
5. Files that contain sales inspections for the properties sold in 2007 available at the Assessors' office.
Verify that inspections were done inside the houses. (There should be notes/checks dated 2007/2008.) If there were no internal inspections, you may argue as part of your abatement case that since the house value was unconfirmed the land value
is in question. (This year, land value is determined by subtracting the depreciated value of the home from the sale price.) Include copies of file evidence of no interior inspection(s) in your application.
INFORMATION YOU PROVIDE
For your land: Much of the prior information on land discounts has been lost, so you need to restore it depending on your particular case:
* Proof from conservation or the town's GIS system that you have wetlands/streams (photos should also help). HYPERLINK
* Photos, topographical map, etc. if you have a topographical issue such as a steep hill.
* Traffic data for your street if you are claiming traffic as a condition factor.
* Plot plan if your land is strangely configured that prevents some use.
For your house: Note and correct any data errors on your property card regarding the features of your house. Attach photos if they are helpful. Style, grade, and depreciation, all influence the value of a building.
Compare the current information on your property with last year:
Online: FY2008 SPREADSHEET HYPERLINK "http://www.wayland.ma.us/assessors/whatsnew.htm" http://www.wayland.ma.us/assessors/whatsnew.htm
FY2009 SPREADSHEET HYPERLINK "http://www.wayland.ma.us/assessors/Vsion.htm" http://www.wayland.ma.us/assessors/Vsion.htm
These are also available in the library and on your old and new property cards.
Note any changes. Like, if your home's grade went up from last year, this is worth questioning; OR, if you know that a comparable dwelling has been upgraded much more than yours, and that house has the same grade as yours - then consider
asking for a lower grade.
FILLING OUT THE FORM
Reason for abatement -"overvaluation" or one of the other options. DO NOT check "Disproportionate."
The class is "101".
Schedule an appointment for inspection. You must make the appointment within two weeks of submitting the application. Be sure to get a stamp "received" on your submitted application and a copy.
Inspection of Property: The assessors' office will inspect all properties seeking abatement. When the inspector comes, point out various land/ house features, make sure the inspector's data is correct and have the inspector give you a dated, signed
report of the inspection.
You must pay the tax when due, even if you appeal.
-- Molly Upton
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor