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Lakefront owners sue again over taxes in Ossipee

Union Leader Correspondent

September 09. 2012 10:27PM

OSSIPEE - More than 60 Ossipee Lake shorefront property owners have banded together to file another class-action lawsuit for property tax abatement for tax year 2011.

The lawsuit - headed up by landowners Roland Cherwek and James Fitzpatrick, and joined by 60 others - is similar to the one filed for the 2010 property tax year. The plaintiffs' claim is that the land-base shorefront property values are over-assessed in comparison with other parts of Center Ossipee and that the calculations used to figure the rate do not include all the property sales transactions. The town of Ossipee's tax assessor and select board have denied, either in full or in part, the taxpayers' request for abatement.

Attorney Amy Manzelli of BCM Environmental and Land Law in Concord filed the latest lawsuit Aug. 31 in Carroll County Superior Court. Manzelli has filed a request asking the New Hampshire Supreme Court to classify the first lawsuit as a class-action suit.

Manzelli writes that it would be impractical for each individual property owner to file separate suits.

'The petitioning class members believe that damages for each individual are relatively small, making it economically unfeasible to pursue remedies other than as a class,' the request states.

The owners claim in the lawsuit that properties' assessment 'bear no rational relationship to the actual fair market values of the properties, even after applying a town-wide equalization adjustment.'

The property owners argue the assessor over-assessed their land values - they have no problem with the assessed value of their homes, many of which have been improved over the years.

The town's contract tax assessor, David Wiley, utilized a base land tax rate for waterfront properties in the area at $400,000 per every first six-tenths of an acre. The proposed lawsuit does not challenge other parts of assessing value, such as the value of buildings, improvements or adjustments for the character of the land.

Courts Politics Ossipee