Legal Dept.: Norwalk taxpayer needs to ammend property map to get tax relief

NORWALK, Conn. – The city has not reduced taxes for a Norwalk resident because the resident’s property is classified as two lots, and he has not taken prescribed action to officially change that.

That was the short answer given to NancyOnNorwalk by Norwalk Assistant Corporation Counsel Brian McCann in response to an inquiry about a lawsuit filed by Attorney Steven Colarossi on behalf of lifelong Norwalker James Stamatis.

Stamatis is being taxed on two properties at 13 and 15 Lakeview Drive, property he inherited from his father. There is a house on one lot, a garage and driveway on the other. Both properties are listed at .11 acre – 4,791 square feet – too small to be sold or developed individually. Stamatis says that shows the two properties are really one .22-acre and he should be taxed accordingly.

Tax Assessor Michael Stewart contends that each lot is buildable, according to Colarossi, although Planning and Zoning Director Mike Greene said in a letter provided by Colarossi that each of the B residence-zoned lots is undersized by about 1,500 square feet.

“Anyone driving by 15 Lakeview Drive sees a small Cape with a detached garage. It’s the kind of well-maintained home in a quiet and friendly neighborhood that would be an affordable home for a young family,” Colarossi said in a Sunday email. “But, according to Norwalk’s Tax Assessor, the property is worth $476,790 and the annual tax bill exceeds $8,500 — hardly affordable by any stretch of the imagination.”

In his letter, Greene said Stamatis could go to City Hall and get the map corrected, and he explained the procedure. McCann said that did not happen, and instead Colarosssi filed the suit.

“In his April 4, 2014 letter (which is an exhibit to the Stamatis complaint), Michael Greene, Director of Planning and Zoning, explained to James Stamatis that it is the property owner’s intent that controls whether a nonconforming parcel is merged with another parcel,” McCann wrote to NoN. “Although Mr. Greene recognizes that having the garage on one parcel and the house on the other certainly indicates intent, he also states that the Zoning Board of Appeals is the entity which must decide intent, and suggests that Mr. Stamatis file a map on the Land Records, and a document clarifying his intent with regard to merger.”

“…The City has been working with Mr. Stamatis and Attorney Colarossi since it became aware of the issue. The City has been requesting that Mr. Stamatis file something on the Norwalk Land Records since it became aware of the issue. [Letters attached below]. To our knowledge, despite multiple requests, and Mr. Stamatis’ confirmation that this would be done … the necessary documentation to establish merger have yet to be filed on the City Land Records.

“If and when this documentation is filed, the City Planning and Zoning Department will make a determination with regard to merger and the taxes will be adjusted accordingly.”

City Response to Stamatis Lawsuit


5 responses to “Legal Dept.: Norwalk taxpayer needs to ammend property map to get tax relief”

  1. Susan Wallerstein

    Wondering whether those who were so quick to trash talk will apologize given what appears to be a reasoned, reasonable response from the City. Also a bit surprised that the chorus of armchair zoning experts didn’t think about the variance possibility.

  2. Nora King

    This is not correct. The two adjacent parcels are one economic unit. The second lot is not a buildable lot per Mike Greene. Michael Stuart’s job is to determine market value based on the current use and the highest and best use. If he is appraising it as a buildable lot when he knows that it is not he is not appraising it correctly. The homeowner shouldn’t have to merge the lots or create a new deed. The assessor should be following correct appraisal practices, which it appears that he is not doing. Why should the homeowner have to have the burden placed on him? Michael Stewart needs to value the property based on its highest and best use. If the lot isn’t buildable as Mike Greene states then the value of the lot is typically minimal in the appraisal world.

  3. EveT

    The point is that town authorities should work together to show and tell the homeowner what to do to remedy the situation. It should not be a game of “Hey,I’m just doing my job, it’s up to you, Mr. Homeowner, to figure out the solution.”

  4. Don’t Panic

    The code does not require any action of the homeowner in order to establish the “intent”. It clearly states that if the property is continuously occupied with a condition that represents a merged condition prior to the code or the code revision, then that property CANNOT be treated in any other way. Filing the map would augment his case, but is not a condition that can be required.
    In reality, it is Mr. Stamatis’ now deceased parent that created the “intent” by building the garage. Any number of revals undertaken since 1965 should have uncovered this problem.
    Unfortunately the Board of Assessment Appeals has insisted that the deed map be filed, and Zoning is taking the position that the Zoning Board of Appeals decides intent. More reasonable heads should prevail here.

  5. Steve Colarossi

    The City’s position is entirely incorrect.

    It is neither “reasoned” nor “responsible” to claim that the Tax Assessor won’t do his job (which is to properly assess property according to the law) unless a property owner incurs unnecessary expense.

    There is an extensive record (including a map and deeds) in the land records showing single ownership and single use of the two tax parcels.

    There has yet to be any City official who has indicated the section of the Zoning Code that would allow the subdivision the Tax Assessor claims is possible (and which justifies his excessive tax assessment).

    The City’s position is unreasonable- the only “reasonable” solution is for the City to require the Tax Assessor to correct his years of mistakes without further delay or expense to the taxpayer.

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