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Hearing set for assessment suit

Published 10:57pm Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The city of Suffolk is scheduled to argue in Circuit Court in justification of assessments on residential properties off Pitchkettle Road after negotiations with a developer who has filed suit apparently broke down.

After an earlier date was continued for the talks, a trial has now been set for Aug. 26, according to a recent court filing.

In court records, the Ainslie Group claims that about 71 parcels around Pitchkettle Estates and Pitchkettle Farms, the site of Homearama in 2006, were over-assessed. The suit asks for a refund of about $100,000, plus interest, on taxes paid between July 2007 and June 2011.

Jeff Ainslie, who has not returned multiple calls for fresh comment, said at the beginning of February that he hoped the trial would ultimately be avoided by the city refunding the taxes and lowering the assessments before going to court.

The suit claims that the city “committed manifest error … used improper methodology, and/or disregarded controlling evidence” when it assessed the properties “at more than fair market value.”

The city faces another two assessment suits in the Circuit Court: a $33,000 claim for 20 lots in North Suffolk’s Governor’s Pointe, and a $117,000 claim by the owners of North Suffolk’s Hilton Garden Inn.

Invited to comment on the apparently failed negotiations over Pitchkettle, spokeswoman Debbie George stated that the city “does not comment on pending legal matters.”

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