‘Grossly Excessive, Disproportionate and Unlawful’: Commercial Property Owner Appeals Tax Assessment

The owners of two contiguous commercial buildings in downtown New Canaan are challenging the town’s decision to forgo an appeal hearing following a tax revaluation that the plaintiffs describe as “grossly excessive, disproportionate and unlawful.”

Numbers 62 and 64 Main St.—antique mixed-use buildings located just south of the fire station (the former Knights of Columbus building and the next one across the alley, which houses Ching’s Table among other tenants)—are owned by a limited liability company whose managing principal is Stephen Lawrence, president of Investment Capital Partners Ltd., according to local tax and Connecticut Secretary of the State records. The properties were assessed at $1,150,170 (62 Main St.) and $1,465,800 (64) in a recent revaluation. The Board of Assessment Appeals’ decision to forgo appeal hearings leaves the valuations unchanged. According to a complaint filed Tuesday by attorney Michael D. Reiner of Farmington-based Greene Law P.C., the assessments are “manifestly excessive, unlawful and could not have been arrived at except by disregarding the statutes for determining the taxation and valuation of the Premises.”

Though the property owner “appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals of the Town of New Canaan claiming to be aggrieved by the action of the Assessor and offered to be sworn and answer all questions concerning the property,” still, “the Board elected not to conduct an appeal hearing related to this commercial, industrial, utility or apartment property with an assessed value in excess of one million dollars,” Reiner said in the complaint. Town records show that appeals scheduled for March 13 for both properties were “dismissed” by the Board.

Complaint: New Canaan Lumber Co. Tax Assessment ‘Grossly Excessive’

New Canaan’s fourth-highest taxpayer is appealing the town’s assessment of a Grove Street property, court documents show. The New Canaan Lumber Company’s 1.64-acre lot at 45 Grove St., which includes the New Canaan Racquet Club building, in 2018 was assessed at $8,966,610. According to a complaint filed April 23 by attorney Amy Zabetakis of Darien- and New Canaan-based Rucci Law Group, the figure is “grossly excessive, disproportionate and unlawful.”

The plaintiff “[w]ithin the time prescribed by law” appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals, however, on Feb. 24, the appointed body said the appeal was dismissed and would not be heard. “The Plaintiffs are aggrieved by the decisions of the Assessor and the Board,” said the complaint, filed in state Superior Court.

New Condo Complex Appeals Tax Assessment 

The owners of a new condo development on Vitti Street on Friday filed a complaint in state Superior Court challenging the town’s tax assessment of the property. The $10,183,810 assessment in October of 23 Vitti St. was “grossly excessive, disproportionate and unlawful,” according to the complaint filed on behalf of the owners of Gramercy Park Condominium. “The Town of New Canaan’s Assessment was manifestly excessive and could not have been carried at except by disregarding the provisions of the statutes for determining the valuation of such Property,” according to a complaint from attorney Todd Lampert of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci LLC. The property at 23 Vitti Street was sold for $1,525,000 in February 2016, tax records show.