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Tax assessment...
by Patrick Jirschele


February 06, 2004

On March 24, 2003 I went before the Board of Equalization to have our land value reduced on the grounds that it is located in a high noise area. Over the last few weeks I have received a number of calls requesting information on my case, so I thought I would put my response as a viewpoint on Sitnews. (View document)

In 1987 and 1988 the "Airport Master Plan and F.A.R. Part 150 Noise Study" was done to measure the effects of the airport and airplane noise. Noise monitoring equipment was placed in eight places from Carlana to the Coast Guard Base including two on Pennock. The summer study showed most sites were in excess of 65Ldn. Ldn is a measurement of accumulated noise. The analogy is a rain gauge, after 24 hours it may read 3 inches. It may have rained very hard for periods of time and not at all in others, in the end 3 inches was accumulated. Ldn or Night Day Level is expressed in decibels or db. Db is a logarithmic measurement; an increase of 3db is a doubling of the noise.

According to the study, planes were not flying between 10pm and 7am during the test. Last year some air taxis started flying before 7am. There were between 8 and 12 of these flights every day. Each of these flights has an extra 10db penalty added to its actual noise measurement. This pushes the Ldn (night-day noise) substantially higher than 65. (Remember each 3db doubles the level of the noise).

The Federal guidelines in table 7A of the noise study show residential property should not be located in a 65-70Ldn area unless expensive noise reduction windows and insulation are used. Windows must remain closed and of course this doesn,t take care of outside noise.

The study recommends the Borough take steps to mitigate the problem and minimize the potential for future litigation. One recommendation is to adopt noise overlays. These are essentially charts with boundaries showing where the different levels of noise are. With these overlays a potential buyer could determine the noise level of a property before buying. This was never done.

The study "Airport Master Plan and F.A.R. Part 150 Noise Study" and a separate plastic spiral bound Appendix D that is the summer noise study is available in the Borough Planning Office.

AS 34.70.010 requires a seller to provide a disclosure statement before taking an offer from a buyer.

Page 5 item 30a of the disclosure form specifically refers to airplane noise.

As 34.70.090 lays out the penalties for not disclosing a problem with property when you sell it. Your potential liability is up to three times the actual damage for not complying.

My case was based on this and other information (with copies from the study it was over 50 pages and should be available from the Borough Clerk,s office). Because our property is located in a well documented high noise area that should not be classified as residential, and I have to disclose that fact when it is sold, I argued that the land value was excessively high.

A majority of the Board of Equalization agreed and voted to reduce our land value by 37.5%.

I,d like to make it clear, I,m not a lawyer and this is not intended to be legal advice. This is information about my case as I presented it and information I found on the web. If you are not clear about the disclosure statutes after you have read them, It may be best to seek legal advice, as the penalties for not disclosing are high.

If you challenge your tax assessment, just follow the directions on the back of your valuation from the borough. Feel free to use any information here or in my original case. It is accurate to the best of my knowledge. The folks at the assessment office are real helpful. They're not the evil revenuers of King John's day but good people doing a difficult job and doing it well.

Patrick Jirschele
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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