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Developer seeks reduction in land value assessment

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Aug. 27, 2002
The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors will seek an attorney general's opinion on the legality of reducing a 2001 tax assessment on nine parcels of property at Meridian Town Center.
Twelve Meridian Town Center properties appeared on the county's list of land to be sold for delinquent taxes, with a total of $196,057.75 due. Meridian Town Center LLP the developer of Lowe's and the Wal-Mart Supercenter, along with other properties in the vicinity is seeking a $6.1 million reduction in its 2001 assessment, on which the delinquent tax sale is based.
Essentially, according to developer Andrew Mattiace, he has asked the board to assess the property at 2002 levels, which showed a decrease in value because of what he called undevelopable land.
He said nine of the 80 acres in question contain prehistoric fossils, a drainage ditch, a water retention basin and a rerouted stream land designated "no use" by the Lauderdale County tax assessor's office in the 2002 assessment.
Tax assessor Jimmy Slay said he's been in talks with Meridian Town Center over this issue for some time, but that he stands by his office's 2001 assessment of the property.
Meridian Town Center filed a petition seeking the reduction on Feb. 7, 2002.
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt said the big question in his mind is: "What was the situation on those parcels Jan. 1 2001?"
Slay confirmed that if land is under development, it is still classified, for assessment purposes, as undeveloped.
One major difference between the 2001 and 2002 assessments is that in the latest property reappraisal, a portion of the land is designated a no use area, Hitt said.
Supervisors said they would seek a legal opinion from the Mississippi attorney general.

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