APPLETON — Four months after voters at the Appleton town hall narrowly approved the sale of 17 acres of public property, the vacant woodlot hit the market Oct. 19.
Less than a day after the Select Board’s unanimous vote on October 11 for a contract with Camden Coast Real Estate to market the West Appleton Road lot, the listing has been published on at least six online property sites.
And although the city initially told voters in the June town hall vote that the land was worth $55,000, it’s now on the market for more than double that amount — $145,000. That’s the current market value of the plot, which is zoned residential and can be subdivided, according to Camden Coast Real Estate’s market analysis prepared in September for the town.
If realized, this amount could pay the entire bill for the business property reassessment that Appleton would soon have to incur to comply with state law, which is well overdue.
Indeed, the “main” reason for selling the land was “to raise funds so that we can do a city-wide revaluation of all properties”, according to Peter Beckett, Vice Chairman of the Select Board.
“That was the original goal, that was the top priority, and we think we’ll have to do that in the next two years,” Beckett said.
It’s been about 15 years since the last reassessment, he said, reflecting the language of a town meeting mandate passed in June.
Article IX, Section 7 of the Maine Constitution states that such “general evaluations shall be made at least once every 10 years”.
Accompanied by five photos, the Camden Coast listing describes the plot this way: “Ideally located near Gibson Preserve, Appleton Preserve, West Appleton Golf Club and many Midcoast amenities, this mature wooded lot offers a variety of layouts. potential. Keep the land as one parcel and enjoy a private place to call home or use the large road frontage to your advantage and develop it. Electricity available along West Appleton Road and easy access to the property make this versatile land desirable – come take a look today and bring your ideas.
Land sale and revaluation were among the three issues related to successful mandates at the June 22 town meeting. The sale of the land, at the heart of the case, was almost lost.
The mandates were sections 27 to 29. The first read as follows: Will the City vote to authorize the establishment of a reassessment reserve fund?
The article was accompanied by a note from the select committee which explained: “Sales of properties exceeding assessed value in 2022 suggest the future need for revaluation. The City Assessor’s Officer recommended that the City begin planning for a reassessment, which can cost up to $130,000. The creation of a revaluation reserve allows the city to plan the expenditure, instead of increasing everything at once. The sums will be affected during the municipal councils. The vote was 249 for and 120 against; This happened.
Article 28 deals with the sale of land. It read: Will the city authorize the Select Board to sell, through a licensed broker, Map 8, Lot 15, half of the land owned by the city known collectively as the Grover McLaughlin lot , containing a total of 17 acres, with sales proceeds going to the revaluation reserve fund, if approved, or to the balance of the undesignated fund if a revaluation reserve fund is not approved?
The article was accompanied by the following note from the Select Board: “Currently, the land does not bring in tax revenue; timber harvesting in the nearby Midcoast lot over the past 5 years has brought the city $2,700 and this warrant asks for permission to harvest before sale. The anticipated asking price for each lot is $55,000. If a $200,000 home has been built, the annual tax assessment for land and construction should start at $3,000 per lot created. This lot has 800 feet of food frontage, allowing for up to five individual lots with 150 feet of road frontage per lot, per the city building ordinance. If approved by voters, the board intends to form a committee to review several potential lots and the sale will ultimately help defray the cost of a reassessment, which the city last completed there. over 15 years ago. The article narrowly passed by a vote of 197 to 193.
On a third related issue, Section 29, sought voter approval to harvest timber from land for sale. It read as follows: Will the City permit the Select Board to harvest timber on City-owned land known as Grover McLaughlin Lot (Map 8 Lot 5 and Map 8, Lot 15)? It passed by a vote of 230 to 150.
At the time of the recent commercialization of the 17 acres, no plan for timber harvesting had been put forward. Camden Coast Real Estate has advised against a harvest.
According to the Maine Tax Services Property Tax Division, “A reassessment is a process that creates a solid foundation of inventory for tax purposes. The Constitution of Maine provides that all taxes on real and personal property, assessed by the authority of this state, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to their fair value. In order to fairly distribute the tax burden, the appraiser(s) must prepare appraisals valued at fair value. Fair value is synonymous with market value.
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