Weekly Feature

2017-09-13 / Front Page

Assessor: Equity Project accomplishes objective

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor

Town Assessor Dave Marrano on Monday updated the Town Board on statistical data and other details from this year’s Assessment Equity Project, noting that his department accomplished the objective of better distributing the tax levy through fair property values.

“If you don’t do an assessment equity project, you have inequity,” Marrano said at the Town Board’s work session. “We wanted to make sure everyone gets their fair share of the pie.”

As part of the 2017 reassessment project, Marrano said the challenge process included 1,839 informal reviews, which involves in-person and drop-off reviews. The reviews represented 6.4 percent of the total property count.

The assessor added that the Board of Assessment Review surveyed 1,730 cases. About 60 percent of those cases, Marrano said, were reviewed in person.

Marrano said he was pleased not only with his office staff — which assessed one-third of all of the residential properties — but also with GAR Associates, a real estate appraisal firm that was contracted to assist the town in the equity project.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with GAR Appraisal,” he said. “They did everything we asked of them.”

The last time a townwide reassessment was conducted prior to this year was in 2009.

Marrano said that as a result of the reassessments the total assessed value in the town increased by more than $1.93 billion, or 16.86 percent, and the total taxable assessed value increased by $1.66 billion, or 18.83 percent.

“I am very comfortable with the results,” he said. “We accomplished the objectives we set out to do.”

In another matter discussed at the work session, the board was provided an update on the proposed site plan for the Westwood community, which will be addressed next week during a public hearing regarding the revised draft generic environmental impact statement as it applies to the planned neighborhood.

The public hearing on the DGEIS, which in December 2015 the Town Board deemed adequate in respect to its scope and content — which totaled several hundred pages — will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18.

The hearing will also allow the public to discuss state environmental quality review and rezoning applications that have been requested by Westwood’s owners, Mensch Capital Group.

As of November 2016, Mensch Capital had requested the rezoning of nearly 147 acres of the property of the former Westwood Country Club, 772 N. Forest Road, as follows:

• 131.71 acres to Traditional Neighborhood Development

• 13.59 acres to Multifamily Residential

• 1.4 acres to General Business

Mensch first submitted the plans for the reuse of the property as Westwood neighborhood — an approximately $250 million project — in July 2014. The development is planned to include residential, retail, senior living and green space areas.

Sean Hopkins, attorney for Mensch Capital, said the updated site plan now includes an amphitheater, larger ponds and enlarged buffers throughout the property to create more boundaries. He said the plan also includes space for several small pocket parks.

Additionally, Hopkins said there is a north-south road that will connect Maple Road and Sheridan Drive. He said plans also include an east-west connecting road from North Forest to Frankhauser roads.

“Both of these connecting roads will assist in traffic flow in times of heavy traffic,” he said.

Should the extended time be needed in next week’s public hearing, the Town Board agreed that the hearing would adjourn at or before midnight, and if required, it would reconvene at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Additionally, written comments regarding the public hearing and DGEIS will be accepted by the Town Clerk’s Office until 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2.

Further details about the project — including renderings and site plan information — can be viewed on the website www.westwoodamherst.com.

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