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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.

— Lewis also said that he wanted to address the town board as a guest on two separate occasions on the matter, but was turned away by Boisen.

Boisen said that while there is no mention on the agendas for public comment, it is offered.

“Scheduled guests are offered the floor at the beginning of each Essex Town Board meeting,” Boisen said. “Public comment has never been refused by me or the Town Board since I have been in office.”

Lewis disagreed.

“We have offered twice, and their response was clear,” Lewis said. “We thought our words might help what appears to be quite a mess. Speaking for myself, if they want to hear from us, they can let us know. It makes little difference to me.”

Lewis is disputing the assessment of two of six parcels that make up the Lewis Family Farm, the largest agricultural portion and his home. Lewis and his legal counsel, Martina Baillie, had previously filed a pair of grievances in the town about the assessments on the two parcels: a field crops parcel of 1,111 acres assessed at $6,033,190; and a 5.2-acre family residence assessed at $412,900.

At that time, the grievances were both taken into consideration by the town’s board of assessment review, which cut the first parcel’s assessment to $4,811,112 while leaving the second parcel’s value the same.

This year, the assessment on the larger parcel was again dropped to around $4 million during a grievance by Lewis and Baillie to the town’s assessors.

“The town assessors and leadership has come from above $6 million, to $4.8 million, to just above $4 million,” Lewis said. “Not a word about why. Silence. I think that it was an assessment prejudice.”

In response, Boisen said that she would continue to offer no comment on any pending legal issue.

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