Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
New housing bumps up Vernon grand list

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
February 1, 2006

VERNON - An increase in apartment and condominium construction helped to push the grand list up 2 percent last year.

The 2005 grand list now stands at $1,310,983,336, meaning the town received close to $26 million in new assessments during 2005.

Based on the town's tax rate of 35.79 mills, the increase in assessments would result in $930,332 in new tax revenue, Town Assessor David Wheeler said.

The grand list represents the total amount of taxable property in town, including real estate, personal property, and motor vehicles.

Wheeler said officials are hopeful that growth in 2005 would be around the 2 percent mark.

"That's a very good number for Vernon," Wheeler said. "It's been a wonderful year and we expect 2006 to be equal."

The driving force behind the growth in the grand list is an increasing number of apartment and condominium developments, which have been completed during the past year or are in various stages of construction.

Among those are The Mansions off Hockanum Boulevard, the Quail Hollow Development off Dart Hill Road, and Dobson Commons off Dobson Road, Wheeler said.

Even projects that are in their early stages, like the Lantern Lane development on the corner of Hartford Turnpike and Merline Road, increase the town's assessments simply after receiving approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

"If you have a piece of land that's vacant, once you go through the planning and zoning process and you get approvals, the land becomes more valuable," Wheeler said.

Overall, the town received nearly $14 million in additional real estate assessments.

Personal property assessments increased by just over $3 million, while motor vehicle assessments went up just over $9 million.

Wheeler said residential development should continue to drive increases in the grand list as more housing units are completed, resulting in additional real estate assessment increases.

Mayor Ellen L. Marmer said today that she was pleased by the growth in the grand list, and predicted that residential development should provide a solid base for growth over the next five years.

Marmer added that the new tax revenue could allow the town to implement a tax relief program for residents over the age of 65.

Speaking to the success of the Mansions, the town's largest source of tax revenue, Marmer said residential growth is a sign that people want to live in Vernon.

"We have a very positive future ahead of us in terms of the grand list," said Marmer, who also praised Economic Development Director Neil S. Pade for working to attract new businesses in town. "I'm encouraged."

Marmer said the town also benefited from the opening of the new Price Chopper Supermarket in Tri-City Plaza, which was not accounted for in the 2004 grand list.

Top 10 taxpayers

The Mansions LLC, which owns land and apartments, topped the grand list for the third straight year with an assessment of slightly more than $26 million.

The Mansions accounts for 1.98 percent of the total grand list, according to grand list documents.

The remaining top 10 taxpayers are the same as last year's:
* Javit Asset Partnership, operators of the Tri-City Plaza, $18.38 million, 1.4 percent of the grand list.

* Connecticut Water Company, a utility, $18.19 million, 1.39 percent of the grand list.

* Connecticut Light & Power/Yankee Gas Co., utility, $15.5 million, 1.18 percent of grand list.

* Woodbrook LLC, apartments, $14.58 million, 1.11 percent of grand list.

* CE Vernon II LLC, shopping center, $12.6 million, 0.96 percent of grand list

* Talcottville Development, commercial, $8.05 million, 0.61 percent of grand list.

* Kerensky, Schneider Trustees, commercial/residential, $7.96 million, 0.6 percent of grand list.

* Chapman Acres, apartments, $7.08 million, 0.54 million of grand list.

* One Fifty Five West Main St., apartments, $5.44 million, 0.42 percent

The top 10 taxpayers account for over $133.82 million or 10.2 percent of the grand list, officials said.

©Journal Inquirer 2006