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Real estate assessment suit filed

Published 9:31pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A July 8 Circuit Court hearing date has been set in the first real estate assessment lawsuit against the city of Suffolk since its 2012 assessments.

BSJ, LLC is seeking assessment adjustments on 20 lots in the Governors Pointe subdivision tucked behind the Vintage Tavern on Route 17 in North Suffolk, court records state.

The suit also requests a tax refund of $34,777.41 “or other amount that the court determines,” plus costs.

Assessments in 2012 on the subject lots, located on Torrington Circle, Wentworth Court, Tindalls Court and Governors Pointe Drive, range from about $202,300, for 126 Torrington Circle, down to $110,300, for both 133 Torrington Circle and 1929 Governors Pointe Drive, according to city records.

“There exists a significant disparity between the fair market value and the assessed value” on the lots during the past three years, the complaint claims.

BSJ contracted Bradshaw Appraisal Service to determine the fair market value of the lots in support of its claims, according to court records.

The registered agent of BSJ, which city records confirm owns the lots, is Jeffrey Overton, according to state records. Overton is a Suffolk-based attorney with Chesapeake-headquartered law firm MacDonald, Plumlee & Overton.

Stephen J. DeBoer, an associate attorney with the firm, filed the complaint with the court on Dec. 12, and the hearing is expected to last two days from July 8, court records state.

After receiving last year’s assessment notice, BSJ first appealed the city’s valuations to the Board of Equalization, winning an adjustment for 2012-2013, courts records state.

“However, there remained a significant disparity between the equalized assessment … and the fair market value,” according to the lawsuit.

Consisting of three court-appointed private citizens with real estate appraisal expertise, the independent board is the next level of appeal after an interview with the city appraiser responsible for the given assessment.

The suit requests a court order to reduce assessments on 12 lots to “at or about” $80,000, and to $95,000 on eight lots; and the requested refund is for real estate taxes already paid, court records state.

General property taxes, accounting for about four-fifths of city general fund revenues, include levies on other possessions such as cars and mobile homes but are overwhelmingly supported by real estate, budget papers state.

The city has filed a response to the suit denying all allegations. It did not respond to a request Wednesday afternoon for further comment.

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