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Lewis Family Farm assessment grievance to be heard by county

Sandy Lewis, center, has filed a complaint in court against the town of Essex over the assessed value of two of the six parcels that make up the Lewis Family Farm there.

Sandy Lewis, center, has filed a complaint in court against the town of Essex over the assessed value of two of the six parcels that make up the Lewis Family Farm there. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— The fight between the Town of Essex and the Lewis Family Farm is still playing out between lawyers, but will have a day in front of a county Board of Assessment Review.

During the May Finance Committee meeting, Charli Lewis of the Real Property Office said that the Town of Essex Grievance Day, originally scheduled for May 22, would not take place, but would take place on June 12 and be done by a county panel.

Town Supervisor Sharon Boisen said that the town was unable to form a quorum of the Board of Assessment Review.

“They were unable to meet the necessary quorum to hear grievances on May 22,” Boisen said. “Therefore, the County BAR is, by law, required to serve.”

Boisen said that no members of the BAR have resigned.

“The change in date is simply because the individuals who serve in the three positions required by law to act as the County BAR were unable to all be here on May 22,” she said.

The county BAR will be made up of Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, Board of Supervisors Clerk Deborah Palmer and County Treasurer Michael Diskin.

Meanwhile, the legal battle over the lawsuit filed by Salim “Sandy” Lewis disputing his assessment continued, with a settlement meeting held Monday, June 4.

Boisen said that she was hopeful the town and Lewis could come up with an agreement.

“I would prefer to settle litigation outside of the courtroom, through stipulation,” she said. “This continues to be true.”

Lewis said that he felt the matter should have been resolved back when he first filed his suit but that the town’s lawyers have been stalling.

“There have been extensive delays — one might say deliberate delays — with the lead counsel, while they declared to the press that settlement will be the way to go,” Lewis said. “I think they are just trying to use up as much of the town’s war chest as possible so there will be no choice but to settle.”

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