GRAFTON — The Peaceful Assembly Church is fighting an effort by the town to collect taxes on the religious group over a dispute about the historic church building.
A motion filed by the town in Grafton County Superior Court is seeking close to $10,000 in taxes and fees from the Peaceful Assembly Church, claiming the group is in violation of an agreement with the town.
Peaceful Assembly was granted tax-exempt status as part of a 2016 agreement with Grafton as long as the church repairs the 1798 church edifice in the center of town.
According to the town’s motion to collect taxes and fees, Peaceful Assembly has failed to live up to its end of the agreement.
Town Attorney Adele Fulton wrote in her motion that the building appears to be abandoned.
Peaceful Assembly’s founder, John O’Connell, died in a 2016 fire in the church building. According to the agreement, the organization was supposed to repair the building and make it weather tight by December of 2017 and have exterior work done by 2019.
Peaceful Assembly’s attorney, Concord-based Seth Hipple, wrote in his response to the motion that the church building has not been abandoned.
“The Church continues and has continued to use (the building) for carrying out its regular religious activities,” Hipple wrote.
The town claims it is owed $9,400 in taxes and fees, while Peaceful Assembly is asking for the motion to be dismissed. A hearing is set in the case for February.