PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners heard four appeals on Tuesday from property owners unhappy with the new appraisals.
James Sharp appealed the $11,700 value placed on his Borland Springs Road property. The value last year was $8,500. Sharp cited articles in "West Virginia Magazine" on timber values during a hearing on Tuesday.
The property, 24 acres of woodland, does not have a right-of-way into it.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Doug Tennant, an appraiser for the Wood County assessor, Tuesday talks to property owner Patricia Stull during a Board of Equalization and Review hearing. Stull objected to the appraised value on her Borland Springs Road property.
"So it's not going to be favorable for developing," Commissioner Blair Couch said.
Sharp was asked what he thought was a fair value and he said the land is steep and adjoins Mountwood Park.
"I was told it's not feasible to get the timber out with it being land-locked. It's across the street from the Mountwood Park campground, there's no access in," Sharp said.
Borland Spring Road is off U.S. 50.
Sharp said the property should be left at last year's value.
Dean Cottrell, chief appraiser for the assessor's office, said Sharp has been given credit for it being land-locked.
"We've already taken 50 percent off the value for it being land-locked," Cottrell said.
Joe Flinn told the commissioners property he and four others own on Wolfe Run Road was damaged by storms several years ago and "lots of timber was destroyed."
He said other timber on the property is not ready to be harvested. He provided aerial views and elevations for the property and said there is a creek running through the land.
"We don't plan to build on it, it's hillside," he said. "It encompasses a total of about 107 acres, there is a cabin on the property. We don't plan to develop it. The only flat part is in the floodplain and we don't intend to sell it. We have no road frontage, it's about 800 feet from the road. I don't feel our property is comparable to others that have sold, it's all hillside, you couldn't farm on it, or build on it, it's really not good for much but hunting," Flinn said.
He estimated the value between $45,000-$50,000.
"There is a right-of-way onto the property, but entrance is by four-wheel drive only," he said.
Cottrell said sales studies done on woodland properties in the county revealed average values per acre of $1,059 or more in the district where the Flinn property is located.
The 2013 property was appraised at $76,200. The 2014 value assigned by the assessor's office is $111,100.
"The state is mandating the assessors bring up the values on woodland, they don't have a lot of choice in this," commission President Wayne Dunn told Flinn.
Patricia Stull appealed the value of 20 acres along Borland Springs Road.
She originally intended to build on the property, but after the Mountwood Park campground was developed, changed her mind.
The 2013 value on the property was $14,800, the 2014 value is $20,300.
"I think it's valued a bit high," she said.
Stull said she understood it would go up, but felt a value of $18,000 was probably closer to what she considered a fair appraisal.
Gene Cumpston appealed property in Tarrytown owned by his daughter Lee Ann Cumpston. The property was listed in the floodway on new floodplain maps which became effective in November.
"She was notified she is now required to buy flood insurance," Cumpston said of his daughter's Hill Court property.
Cumpston said he felt the new value should be reduced by 20-25 percent since anyone buying it would now have to purchase flood insurance, which he said has been estimated at $1,200 a year.
"We need sales data to help determine value and it's still new. If a property frequently floods we would adjust for that, but just having the property listed on the flood maps is not something we would look at, but that was also before the flood insurance rates went up," Andy Hartleben, assessor's office appraiser, said.
The 2013 value was $82,500, the new value is $88,500.
Hartleben said he pulled sales from November for properties in the Vienna area, and found, in general, those in the floodway, when compared to other properties of similar style, actually sold for more.
"We do need more sales data, but I did identify these three sales of comparable houses. We want to be fair, and take it all into consideration," Hartleben said.
State code requires county commissions convene in February as the Board of Equalization and Review to hear appeals on property values. Any changes the commission makes are for one year only.
The commissioners will conclude the hearings on Friday and hope to have their final rulings by the end of the month. Residents will be notified in writing of the decision and if not satisfied with the outcome, they can file an appeal in circuit court.