Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Port LaBelle's CHL Battles Tax Appraiser

LABELLE, FLORIDA (Dec. 13, 2006) -- Port LaBelle's major property
owner battled it out with the Hendry County Tax Appraiser this
morning at the Hendry courthouse. Charles F. Svirk, Jr., the
principal and owner of CHL Holdings, Inc. and CHL Home Builders, Inc.
is attempting, in two scheduled days of hearings to reduce the tax
appraisal values on the thousand plus parcels of Hendry county real
estate his two companies own. Svirk, the only shareholder in the two
land and home building companies, is easily spending tens of
thousands of dollars in attorney fees and real estate appraisals to
convince Special Master Dan Stevens that the Hendry tax appraisal
office wildly overvalued his properties, and thus increased the
property taxes due this year by as much as three times what they were
last year.

Svirk brought in a Sarasota attorney, a local real estate appraiser,
and several witnesses to help convince Attorney Stevens that the tax
appraiser made errors in her valuations of Port LaBelle lots this
year, and a mistake on Svirk's personal home on the Caloosahatchee
River. Deputy Tax Appraiser Cliff Wood, represented by attorney Jay
Wood, apparently agreed somewhat with Svirk's home valuation and they
agreed to reduce the home value from $340,000 down to $124,000
without hearing. But Svirk and Wood disagreed on the land value of
the two acre river front parcel, and after one and one-half hours of
evidence, Special Master Stevens said that the land portion should be
valued at $720,000 up from Svirk's claim that it should be worth
$669,000, but less that the tax office's value of $800,000. Svirk
said he bought the property for $250,000 four years ago. Svirk lives
in New Hampshire.

During the afternoon session Stevens will hear a continuation of
evidence on Port LaBelle Banyan Village lot valuation where Svirk's
company owns about 1300 lots. CHL claims that most of the buyers in
2005 did not realize that home building would be illegal because
there is no water lines there. Svirk claims that buyers were ill
informed and were paying tens of thousands of dollars for lots that
were unbuildable. He claims that he only paid an average of about
$6700 for his lots in 2005. Svirk said he was not able to sell any
lots in Banyon Village, however, because the Florida Division of Land
Sales prevent developers or land owners owning more than 25 lots,
like his company, from selling lots to the public where no water is available.

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