The major news at the monthly Town of Chester Board board meeting held Thursday was that the 2008 property re-assessment project is nearing completion. Notices to all Town of Chester property owners will go out March 1 detailing preliminary assessments. There will be time for review of these documents, with individual homeowners having several weeks to examine them before grievances are heard. The assessments are finalized in May. Assessments, but not tax rates, will be discussed in these formal reviews. It is important for homeowners to remember several things when they see the inevitably higher assessments than the current ones which are four years old, town officials said. First, if your assessment increased by the town-wide average, as from $100,000 to $165,000, and total town taxes remained the same, the tax rate would decrease by the same percentage and your taxes would remain the same. In reality, higher costs mean total town taxes go up and rarely will you see taxes remain the same or go down even if your assessment did not go up the average amount, they said. The first tax cycle to include the new assessments and tax rates will be the school tax next September. Secondly, the purpose of the re-assessment project is to even out assessments based on actual property sales prices. If your property did not change hands between 2003 and 2007, it must be categorized with other similar properties to estimate its sale price. According to Maxwell Appraisal Services, which helps the town with its software program to conduct the re-assessment, the Town of Chester has 14 categories of property and is the most complex town it works with. The categories include lakefront property, property with lake rights or views, navigable river property, flood zones, rural secluded property, seasonable cottages, and hamlet property, etc. Surprisingly, sales of small lakefront property with less than 50 foot of frontage did not increase in value during this period, while secluded rural property did. As an example of the increase in market values in town, a rural five-acre lot in 2003 was valued at $10,000, and now is valued at $30,000. In 1999 only one town property was sold for over $500,000. In 2004 that number jumped to ten. In 2007 the first sale of property for over $1 million took place. One lot that sold for $30,000 in 1998 has changed hands five times and its last price was $118,000. The two public hearings before the board meeting had no public comment. The use of the shoulder on Igerna and Perry Roads for ATV usage to access trails was passed. It was determined there was no adverse environmental impact. The Layton septic system variance application was approved now that it covers the minimum variance necessary. Another Loon Lake septic system variance application will be discussed in public hearing at 7:15 p.m. March 11 before the regularly scheduled meeting. This variance is not a shorter than minimum distance from neighbors, but is from the lake side due to terrain and road obstacles. It is the Redecker property at 162 Blue Bay Road and again replaces a 60-year-old cesspool. There was a short discussion of Loon Lake water quality given the increase in residential activity there. Other than the milfoil problem and a new concern about salt runoff, the water has been of drinking water quality in all previous tests. Its murkiness is due to boat activity and clears after Labor Day each year. In other business: * Town officials said volunteers to help improve the town Website would be welcome. *Residents were asked that their suggestions for moving street lights being moved should be directed to board members Mike Packer and Steve Durkish. *There will be a new sign put up on Bird Pond Road to focus attention on a dangerous bus stop there with limited visibility. * There will be an analysis of flood plains in the town due to new enforcement attention from DEC and federal guidelines regarding structure requirements and insurance in those areas. *Phase II of Scaroon Manor has been funded, which means that campsites will be added to the current day-use-only park. * A lovely new Chamber of Commerce brochure will be available soon. Also the Pug Parade will receive more attention this year for parking, vendors etc. since it has grown in stature. The number of dogs entered has grown from 21 to 177 last year and included a Florida entry. *The July 12th fireworks will also be bigger, and a Pig Roast may be added to the festivities.