05 November 2015: Whitefield Selectmen to Hold Meeting on Clary Lake Abatement Requests

There is an article in this week’s Lincoln County News by staff reporter Abigail Adams about an informational meeting to be held by the Whitefield Selectmen for Clary Lake shore owners who filed property tax abatement requests this past fall due to the impact low lake levels have had on their property values. The meeting will be held on November 17th at the Select Board’s regularly scheduled Tuesday night board meeting. The article states that the aim of the meeting is to educate landowners about the town’s current valuation methods for waterfront property. Apparently some of the abatement requests were not considered because they were received after the deadline for filing them. Abatement requests have to be filed within 185 days of when the taxes are committed.

Assessor’s Agent Tom Hayes who is quite familiar with the water level issue plaguing lake shore owners stated that Whitefield’s valuation for shore front property is already “as low as it gets.” This is small consolation to property owners who can’t deploy their docks, launch their boats, go swimming, or otherwise use and enjoy the lake in the manner in which they have become accustomed. People trying to sell their property are finding it almost impossible because of the low water conditions on their shoreline. The low water conditions which have persisted more or less continuously for the last 4 years were especially worse this past summer due to the extremely dry conditions with the lake reaching levels lower than anyone can remember.

A number of Whitefield and Jefferson Clary Lake shore owners submitted tax abatement requests this past fall. As I understand it, the Assessor’s Agent for Jefferson, Gary Geaghan, made a site visit to Hodsdon Lane back in late September and was reportedly quite surprised at how bad the conditions were and at a Jefferson Select Board meeting I attended on October 5th, Lynne Barnikow, Jefferson town clerk said that he was “on the fence” as to whether the low water conditions had in fact impacted property values. Nonetheless, all the Jefferson abatement requests have been denied. While the outcome for owners of shore front property in Whitefield will likely be the same, at least the Town officials are engaging in a dialogue with it’s estranged shore front property owners.

The Clary Lake Association Board, while sympathetic to the property tax issue, has not taken a stand on the matter, preferring to spend their time and effort working towards supporting the DEP’s recent enforcement action and encouraging the Towns to become more actively engaged in supporting the State’s defense of the DEP water level order.

It should be an interesting meeting, and I plan to attend. I’ll post a reminder a few days before the meeting.