PARIS — The Oxford County Board of Assessment Review on Thursday denied an appeal for a tax abatement from a Waterford woman who claims her property has been devalued because of nearby noise from a gun club.

In a 4-0 vote, Chairman Wade Rainey and members Robert Everett, William French and Fred Packard voted not to accept the application due to the untimely filing of the appeal. OXBAR member Sheila Delamater was not at the meeting.

Virginia C. Howe, of 187 McIntire Road, filed suit in Oxford Superior Court on April 23 asking for a reversal of the OXBAR’s denial in March of a request for a tax abatement. She claims her property has been devalued because of the ongoing “extreme” gunfire from the nearby Waterford Fish and Game Club.

But board members, who meet at the Oxford County Superior Courthouse, shut down the appeal before testimony by Howe’s father, John Howe, and others began when it was determined the application was filed eight days past the state-mandated time limit for recourse.

“Deadlines are critical,” said OXBAR Chairman Wade Rainey. “It’s a state law. It may not be waived by assessors.”

Although John Howe said he disputed the timing, he said he would have to review his paperwork before commenting on the issue.


“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” John Howe said. “Now we’re going to boil this down to just a couple of days? I hope the media people see how we are being treated by our town government.”

The latest appeal was based on the OXBAR’s denial of Virginia Howe’s appeal to have 7.5 percent of her 2012 and 2013 taxes abated because of the gun noise. During that appeal process, the board ruled that 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.

But in 2012, the Oxford County Board of Assessment Review granted a similar tax abatement appeal of John and Deborah Howe because of the gun noise. John Howe said he can hear the gun noise seven days a week.

John Howe said this third hearing would have given the OXBAR members an opportunity to side with the results of the first hearing, which granted the tax relief to John and Deborah Howe, or the second hearing, which denied Virginia Howe the tax abatement under what Howe said were the same circumstances.

Waterford selectmen chairman and assessor Randy Lessard said after Thursday’s  hearing that the issue was not about the gun noise, but rather about what an appropriate tax assessment should be.

“We’re at the lowest range the state allows,” Lessard said of the assessment.


Following the decision, John Howe addressed a question by board member Bill French, who asked about a “pending” lawsuit against Waterford. Howe said a lawsuit is not pending against the town, but could be filed at any time.

“We had hoped the town would take action against the (noise) problem,” he said.

In March, selectmen recommended an annual town meeting, and 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.

OXBAR members said the denial can be appealed to the Superior Court.

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