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September 26, 2013

Salisbury says state is lowballing beach's value


The most valuable are prime lots, where Gorniewicz places reservation oceanfront land, the least valuable is unbuildable, where the state places the lots.

“In Salisbury, a quarter-acre oceanfront lot is assessed at about $730,000,” Gorniewicz said. “That’s just the land according to the market.”

However, the state does not consider the beach’s oceanfront lots as prime, she said. To qualify as prime for the state purposes, a lot must conform to local zoning, be considered readily developable, and it cannot be subject to the Wetlands Protection Act or any special permitting, Gorniewicz said.

Because land at the beach requires owners to go before the Conservation Commission before building, Gorniewicz said, DOR considers that special permitting and no longer considers them prime lots, something Gorniewicz vehemently disputes. There are plenty of homes in town built on land that’s subject to the Wetlands Act and Conservation Commission review, she said, and she doesn’t consider those lots subject to “special permitting,” or as unbuildable.

But the state’s theory in Salisbury is dropping the value of reservation land to $15,000 an acre, or $3,750 per quarter-acre lot that’s valued at almost three-quarters of a million on the real estate market, she said.

In addition, Gorniewicz said, the state is far from consistent in applying its reasoning from community to community. She cites lots of state land across from the Ipswich River in Ipswich that DOR classifies as prime lots, even though they’re subject to the Wetlands Protection Act and Conservation Commission review.

“And they don’t have access to sewer,” she added. “Salisbury Beach has sewer.”

Selectmen were pleased to hear the town will fight for its proper due, and Selectman Fred Knowles had an interesting suggestion for Gorniewicz when she meets with the state regulators over the issue.

“Ask them if they’ll sell (Salisbury Beach State Reservation) back to us for $5 million,” Knowles said.

Gorniewicz said she’d be happy to.

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