At Monday night's informal Common Council meeting, David Barnett from GAR Associates was present to report on the revaluation of property in Hudson. Several aldermen reported they had heard from B&B owners that their property had been reclassified as commercial. They wanted to know who had originated the change and why, and they were not happy with Barnett's answer.
According to Barnett, GAR did an across-the-board reclassification of all the B&Bs in Hudson. If they observed or learned from a website that a house was being operated as a B&B, they automatically reclassified it as a commercial property. The aldermen and Council president Don Moore protested that this action put an industry critical to Hudson and its growing tourism-based economy in jeopardy. They pointed out a B&B was by definition a residence that was owner-occupied, had no more than five guest rooms, and lodged no more than ten adult guests at a time. A B&B that met that criteria was considered a home-based business and permitted to operate in areas of the city that are zoned residential. Although the tax rate is not different for residential and commercial properties, being reclassified as a commercial property impacts mortgage rates and makes B&Bs operating in residential neighborhoods--as most of them do--a nonconforming use.
Barnett maintained that the ORPTS (Office of Real Property Tax Services) Manual, the bible of assessors, says nothing about B&Bs. Moore made the point that "if there is an understanding of the law, and this is what owners have been operating under," the B&Bs cannot just automatically be reclassified. "The B&Bs are too important to the city."
There was no immediate resolution to the problem, but Moore and several of the aldermen seemed determined to find a way to rectify the situation.