A recent article about a holiday parade in Auldwood-Lanark-Chesterfield Association (in Shippan) in the Stamford Advocate prompted this comment:
Ah! ALC! One of the beach associations whose fabulous beaches the rest of us subsidize but are not welcome to visit!
Check the city's assessment records, and you'll find a bunch of them:
- ALC has one
- Sea Beach Association has two!
- Ocean View Drive (St. David's Bluff) has one
- Foxwood (the old Haywood Hale Broun property in North Stamford) has one
These properties are fully the size of building lots, but the Assessor very kindly values them at a tiny fraction of their value as a building lot, AND does not assess the owners of the deeded beach rights any more than similar lots nearby which lack such rights.
And the value of those rights is high. ALC is taxed -- are you ready?--$268.45 per year on its 0.54 acre beach, which the assessor has generously valued at a mere $15,960. My notes say that it was previously valued at $158,520, which suggests that they had the chutzpah to appeal an already ridiculously low valuation! If there are 60 properties in ALC., they're paying in Stamford property taxes about $5 per family PER YEAR for exclusive access to a half-acre beach!
A neighboring waterfront lot at 2 Ocean Drive North, 25% smaller at 0.40 acres, is assessed at $1,137,190. So the ALC beach folks are getting a 98.6% discount on their property tax for that lovely shared -- and private -- beach. The rest of Stamford's residents are not welcome there. (Check their website.)
On Sea Beach Drive, they have not one but TWO! private and subsidized beaches. The first in the listings is 0.46 acres, assessed at $57,510, and the second is 0.62 acres, assessed at $53,280. They pay a combined annual property tax on these two fine properties of $1,949. (I'm sure their lawyer will appeal their assessment on the basis of ALC's lowered assessment. Sorry about that, for the other 99.9% of Stamford taxpayers.)
Nearby, 60 Sea Beach Drive's lot of 0.60 acre, is assessed at $1,816,480. This means that the property owners' association is getting a 97% discount on their property taxes on TWO shared properties. That's over $30,000 per property, enough to pay for several children in Stamford's schools. If there are 30 properties in the Association, each pays about $60 per year as their share of the property taxes on these two lots. They're probably paying a lot more for mowing that acre of grass than they're paying in property taxes.
Ocean View Drive -- St. David's Bluff -- has a similar deal. Their beach is 0.70 acres, and is assessed at $54,220; The neighboring waterfront property at 1 Ocean View Drive has a land assessment of $1,664,980 which means that the shared beach is getting a 97% discount on its property taxes.
Hycliff Association must have appealed its assessments; my records show their 2007 assessment on 1.0 acre at $556,750, and it is now down to $74,420; and on their other property, of 0.9 acre, their assessment went from a fair $730,530 (this one's on sewers) to $40,340. (They also got a reduction on their "outbuilding").
But some of Stamford's private parks are paying their fair share.
Dolphin Cove Club Corp. has a valuation of $4,056,440 on its 4.5 acres -- less per acre than some of the other smaller properties on that road, but still significantly higher than ALC, Sea Beach and Ocean View. Nearly $1 million per acre, rather than ALC's $2,944 per acre.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Those of us not welcome on these private beaches and in these private parks are nonetheless asked to subsidize them, permitting them to pay property taxes of less than 5% what nearby properties pay.
Maybe the other 99.9% of us -- most of whom live on less valuable lots than the folks who are getting these 97-99% discounts -- could afford to be that generous a few years ago.
But can we afford it now?
When I questioned the assessor about this practice a few years ago (at a public meeting
And the owners on one side of one of the streets in ALC lack deeded beach rights, and they are clearly not given a lower lot valuation than those whose properties have the deeded beach rights.
And can you imagine a real estate ad neglecting to mention the existence of deeded beach rights? I can't.
If ALC was asked to pay a reasonable property tax on their 0.46 acre beach lot, each property owner would likely be assessed $328 per year for their share of that tax. Thousands of percent higher than the current $5 each, yes. Shocking? No.
I'm sure there are a number of lawyers living in this privileged enclave, who will fight for the privilege of extremely preferential property taxes for themselves and their neighbors -- pro bono!