WATERFORD — The Oxford County Board of Assessment Review will hold its third hearing Thursday on a Waterford woman’s appeal for tax relief on her property located near a local gun club’s shooting range on Route 118.

Virginia C. Howe of 187 McIntire Road filed suit in Oxford Superior Court on April 23 asking for a reversal of the Oxford County Board of Assessment Review’s denial in March of a request for a tax abatement.

The appeal hearing is being held on July 24 at 1 p.m. at the Oxford County Court House.

OXBAR members denied Howe’s appeal to have 7.5 percent of her 2012 and 2013 taxes abated because of the gun noise, saying the property owner knew of the gun club’s presence when she purchased the property for $139,000 from her parents, John and Deborah Howe of 298 McIntire Road, in 2012.

In 2012, the Oxford County Board of Assessment Review granted the tax abatement appeal of John Howe and his wife, Deborah, because of the gun noise. But when their daughter, Virginia, purchased part of their property and sought a similar abatement the following year, she was ultimately denied the abatement by OXBAR in March of this year.

In her petition, filed by attorney Peter Drum of Damariscotta, Virginia Howe asks that her future tax bill include the abatement and that she be awarded an unspecified amount for her incurred costs and other relief the court sees as proper.


She asked that the diminution of the value of her property due to the “extreme” gun noise from the nearby Waterford Fish and Game Club should be taken into consideration for the accurate assessment of her property.

Opponents, who formed the 16-member Waterford Noise Abatement Coalition,  said the issue of noise coming from the Waterford Fish and Game Club’s shooting ranges began about eight years ago. At that time, the Auburn Skeet Club was closed and they joined forces with the club, bringing in skeet shooters and more noise, according to Howe’s father, John Howe.

John Howe said the group has been working with town officials over the years to reign in noise at the site, which includes an adjacent highway, cemetery and ballfields.

In its ruling against Virginia Howe, OXBAR, the board agreed with Selectmen Chairman Randy Lessard’s opinion that the $106,030 assessment was $33,000 less than the purchase price and was within 10 percent of the town’s average sales value ratio of 91 properties from 2007 to 2013.

Lessard told the Sun Journal in May the board did the right thing in denying the appeal.

 “We think we’re right,” Lessard said.

Howe said there are pending legal actions against the town for their “refusal to take significant corrective action and act in the next interests of these same taxpayers, as well as the general public, who use the immediately adjacent highway, cemetery and ballfields.”

In March, selectmen recommended and annual town meeting voters agreed to set aside $40,000 for the legal expense account to fight the impending legal battle in court. Lessard said the entire amount has been set aside for this court issue, adding that the town has used very little in legal fees in this issue until now.


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