Press-Republican

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May 17, 2013

Keene, North Hudson lose appeal

KEENE — The towns of Keene and North Hudson have lost an appeal of a court decision that had greatly reduced the Ausable Club’s property assessments.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court recently upheld State Supreme Court Justice Robert Muller’s 2011 ruling that North Hudson’s and Keene’s combined $20.3 million assessment on club lands in the towns was too high.

The club, which is legally incorporated as the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, owns more than 7,000 acres in North Hudson and Keene. The suit covered the years 2006 to 2008.

APPRAISAL REPORTS

Both the club and the town hired experts who issued appraisal reports on the property. The club hired Donald Fisher, while the towns retained Paul Wicker; both are based in Syracuse.

A 5,000-acre parcel in the Town of Keene had its assessment reduced from $17.9 million to $7.6 million by the court. The town’s appraiser said the Keene parcel was worth $20.1 million, while the club’s expert valued it at $4.5 million.

A 413-acre tract in North Hudson went from $2.4 million to $637,000 in Muller’s original ruling. The club’s appraiser said it was worth $333,000, while the town’s consultant put it at $1.6 million.

‘OBVIOUSLY DISAPPOINTED’

Keene Town Supervisor William Ferebee said he had no comment on the decision but that his Town Council has decided not to appeal. 

He pointed out that the Appellate Division’s decision was unanimous, so the town would need permission from the court to continue to the State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

North Hudson Town Supervisor Ronald Moore said they have not decided whether to appeal.

“We are obviously disappointed with this decision. We’ll meet with our attorney and our Board of Assessors to determine how best to proceed.”

SURPRISED

For legal counsel, the towns were represented by David Murphy of Albany, while the club hired Dennis Phillips of Glens Falls.

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