Ten homeowners with property in Groton Long Point have filed a class action lawsuit against the Town of Groton and town assessor, saying the town unfairly drove their property assessments over the market value, violating state law and potentially causing them to overpay taxes.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 11 in New London Superior Court, contends the assessments during the most recent revaluation “were not the true and actual values as of the assessment date, but rather were arbitrary, grossly excessive, disproportionate, and unlawful in that they failed to properly reflect the true market value of said properties.”
Court injunction sought
It contends the town used an adjustment factor in Groton Long Point that it did not use elsewhere, that this drove values up 35 percent in the subdivision and that it added to the grand list in Groton.
The lawsuit seeks a court injunction declaring the 35 percent increase void, reducing the assessments to their proper value and reimbursing the homeowners for overpaid taxes.
The Town Council is expected to receive a briefing on the lawsuit in executive session during its meeting at 7 p.m. today in the Town Hall Annex.
The suit said land values fell in every part of Groton except in Groton Long Point, where they went up 5.1 percent.
The suit was filed by the following homeowners: John P. and Mary B. Tuohy, of 60 East Shore Drive in Groton; Robert and Yola Feery, of 71 Kingswood Drive in South Glastonbury; David W. Nickolenko, Sr. and Charlene J. Nickolenko, of 14 Burrows St., in Groton; James J. and Linda A. Falcone, of East Longmeadow, Mass.; Louise H. Fisher of Norwich; and Betsey F. Amador of Rancho Palos, Verdes, Calif.
Three own property on East Shore Drive. Others own property on Beach Road or Burrows Street.
The homeowners are suing on behalf of all who own residential property in the subdivision; it could apply to 620 properties with residential buildings.
Groton hired the firm Tyler Technologies, Inc. last year to handle the revaluation for the assessment year starting Oct. 1, 2011.
Foreclosures and Short Sales
The lawsuit said the assessor, Mary Gardner, based on a recommendation from Tyler, excluded certain sales in Groton Long Point when determining property values – including estate sales, foreclosures, ‘short sales’ – but did not exclude them when looking at other parts of town.
The suit also contends that the assessor applied a “1.35 adjustment factor” in Groton Long Point, which it did not apply elsewhere, increasing their value.
Residential building values in the subdivision went up 14.6 percent after the revaluation.
By comparison, the suit listed these changes in building values elsewhere: a 3.8 percent increase in Old Mystic-River Road, a 1.6 percent increase in Center Groton, a .3 percent increase in Mystic Village and Old Mystic, and a .8 percent increase in Mumford Cove.
Values in Noank Village fell 1.1 percent, the suit said.
The suit said the “adjustment factor” in Groton Long Point added $32 milllion to the grand list, or $700,000 in additional property taxes for the town.