WESTFIELD - The owners of Absolut Care and Tops Market are going to court to seek property tax assessment reductions of more than $3 million which, if they prevail, would dramatically lower the village, town and school taxes they pay.
Cass Development, owner of Absolut Care, wants a 90 percent reduction: $3,211,460 down to $321,146. Tops is seeking a $197,600 cut from $700,000 to $502,400.
The information was revealed when the Westfield Town Board approved employing attorney Jeffrey G. Passafaro as "Outside Counsel" to mount a defense against the Cass Development demand. Town attorney Joel Seachrist will defend the town against Tops. Passafaro is an attorney with Foley, Foley & Passafaro in Dunkirk.
Board members also approved a resolution authorizing Supervisor Martha Bills to sign a "Non-Binding Letter of Intent" in connection with an offer by the present owner to donate its equity in the Welch's office building to the town and village of Westfield. Bills said the letter will allow her to do what she termed "due diligence" on the matter.
"This is a very preliminary step," Board Member Ray Schuster commented when contacted at home. "The town is not in the business of buying and leasing buildings."
Earlier at a special meeting in August, the village board discussed the same offer in what one participant described as a "contentious" executive session.
Bills answered, "yes," when asked if the limited liability partnership which owns the landmark building is seeking about $400,000 to cover what is still owed. According to two sources, the owner claims the equity donation would be roughly $700,000 more than the cash payment.
The board also received a complaint from Micheal Dulmas of the Hawthorne neighborhood that he had been unfairly treated by the town regarding animals formerly kept on his property. Dulmas claimed he had been forced by the town to "kill all my animals."
This led to a back-and-forth conversation among Dulmas and town board members along with Seachrist.
Dulmas apparently housed more than 100 animals on his one-third acre, including six roosters, many hens and three pigs.
"I received more complaints about that (property) than any other issue in 10 years," Board Member Dr. David Brown said.
"Neighbors just couldn't take the noise," Bills added.
Dulmas ended the discussion when he walked out waving his hand in apparent disgust.
The board later asked about the remains of a dwelling at Route 5 and McKinley Road destroyed in the spring by a gas explosion and resulting fire.
"It's just a matter of cleaning up," Code Enforcement Officer Jim Pacanowski said.
Pacanowski said the owner is waiting for an insurance settlement.
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