Delco property owners ready to appeal new assessments based on Mariner East 2 pipeline

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Delaware County residents have until September to appeal their recently proposed property reassessments. Some homeowners are already planning to appeal based on a certain factor.

The reassessments were done by Tyler Technologies in June of 2019.

Eric Friedman said the company didn’t take the Mariner East 2 pipeline into consideration.

“Unless you take into account the stigma and the price impairment caused by the pipeline then you’re not reflecting fair market value,” he asserted.

In 2017, a judge ordered all Delaware County homes be reassessed at fair market value. Friedman bought his house in 2012.

“Now eight years later, Tyler Technologies is assessing my home for its fair market value and it’s $100,000 dollars less than what it was eight years ago.”

Attorney James Bonner, Esq. is representing Friedman in his appeal.

“Our goal here is to create tax savings for individual property owners specifically located along the pipeline and closely situated,” he said.

Bonner said he spoke to several homeowners about their concerns.

“They're not seeing anything being taken into account in the way that they feel they should be,” he added, “with marketability of their homes and the values of these homes being so close to such a large scale project, that some people have no idea when the construction may be done and the lasting effects will be on their home.” 

Tyler Technologies declined to answer KYW Newsradio's questions and directed us to the county, who told KYW the “Board of Assessments considered all relevant factors.”

Bonner believes this is an atypical situation when it comes to assessing a home and that everything, including the pipeline, needs to be taken into consideration. 

“Things that affect the home that are typical when you’re looking to pay a home is, you know, some people don't like busy street fronts, some people don't like having a body of water near their home, some people would stay away from train tracks or near noisy highways. Those are typical things,” Bonner explained.  

He added, “What we believe is that pipeline construction may have created an atypical consideration, that unless it’s brought to the attention of the (Board of Assessments), it’s not going to be adequately addressed.”

Friedman hopes to also grab the attention of the taxing authority, if the appeals are successful.  

“(This) will affect the taxing authorities, like the county and the school district and the municipalities. Maybe (it will) help raise their awareness of the magnitude of the economic downsides,” he said.

Friedman pointed out a study done by the Cadmus Group, a strategic and technical consulting company. In it, Cadmus estimated that the impact to southeastern Pennsylvania from the PennEast and Mariner East 2 pipelines will “range from approximately $758 million to $2.4 billion.”

For now, Bonner hopes to help property owners near the pipeline “achieve tax savings so that these homes aren’t paying excessive taxes when they should not be.” And since the assessments were done in the summer of 2019, Bonner says any inconveniences that may have been there then, but aren’t now, can still be taken up for an appeal. 

He said, “Just because you can’t see (the pipeline), doesn’t mean it may not have an adverse effect on your home.”  

Friedman said he is lawyering up because he wants a professional involved. He says many lawyers are willing to go through the appeals process based on a contingency fee, for example a percentage of the tax saving they are able to obtain for you. 

“The fee would be temporary,” he said, “but the (tax) savings would be permanent.”