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.
Salim “Sandy” Lewis is headed back to court.
Lewis, who famously defeated the Adirondack Park Agency over a challenge to houses on his property in 2009, now has his sights set on the town of Essex.
A lawsuit was filed through the Essex County Clerks office last month, claiming that a pair of parcels at the Lewis Family Farm were unfairly assessed at a higher value than they were worth.
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.
The grievances were both taken into consideration by the town’s zoning board of appeals, which cut the first parcel’s assessment to $4,811,112 while leaving the second parcel’s value the same.
Currently, the six parcels total $5,333,512 in assessed value, of which the two disputed parcels are assessed at $5,224,012.
Lewis said that the property had been appraised by Richard Edmunds and Don Fisher, who were jointly agreed to by both himself and the town.
“I have gone out of my way to hire the guys that the town wanted,” Lewis said. “They are the best in the state when it comes to this kind of assessment, and I gave them no restrictions.”
Lewis said that appraisers came up with an assessment figure of $2.3 million for the parcels.
“That was the number they came up with, and honestly, I don’t agree with it,” Lewis said.
According to Lewis, the suit contains their own assessment and determination on the value of the property.
Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen opted not to comment on the matter, referring questions to the town’s attorney, Mark McNamara.
“In a case like this, there is a certain amount of discovery that takes place,” McNamara said. “Their appraisal has been prepared and filed with the court, and we are working on ours.”
McNamara said that the town would be filing their appraisals and discovery to the courts within the next couple of months.
“It is within our best interest to get this done as quickly as possible, as it is in the best interest of the petitioner, Mr. Lewis,” McNamara said.
Lewis said that a settlement conference has been scheduled on the matter, but he wants to make sure it happens in Essex.
“I am delighted that the town has asked for a settlement conference,” Lewis said. “I just don’t want it in Albany. I want it where the two clients are located and not at the convenience of lawyers.”
Lewis said that his main concern with a settlement, however, is that the town could raise the assessment within a year.
“If we settle, the Town can screw us again next year,” Lewis said. “If we go to court, the judge will decide and that ruling would stand for three years.”
McNamara said that the town could continue to seek a settlement on the matter.
“In civil cases like this, the parties are always trying to work out a compromise which would satisfy both parties,” he said. “Discussion will continue as we seek a resolution on the matter.”