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Notification sent regarding suspected CUVA breaches

Lamar County tax assessors addressed several Conserva-tion Use Valuation Assess-ments at its Jan. 6, meeting, releasing two families due to death and illness, tabling another and agreeing to send letters to numerous owners suspected of breaches. George Weldon spoke for his family, which asked for release from CUVA on three tracts due to the death of the owners. Two others in the estate were released in 2008. Another CUVA was released due to the illness of the owners at the request of the trustee, who provided four doctor’s letters outlining their conditions. Neither release incurred penalties under state law. A potential breach for the former Stewart property, which is being sold by Eric McDaniel to Cheyenne Farms, was postponed after it was found there is no proof of a lease/purchase agreement, though chief appraiser Linda Mayo said the closing of the property did not go through as planned. Mayo also noted agriculture commissioner Tommy Irvin is among those who rent the property, which includes an arena, for events. ’There’s no breach, especially with the ag department involved, though there’re little things right on the borderline,’ she said. ‘We also have no legal right to ask for the (sale) contract.’ To be addressed in the future is McDaniel’s homestead exemption, which is no longer valid because he does not live there. Three stacks of suspected CUVA breaches saw 21 day letters approved. Five were cease and desist orders for rentals of houses or mobile homes on CUVA property. Others had cut out five acres for family members, allowable under law, but the paperwork was not changed to reflect the new acreage. ’There are no penalties,’ said chief appraiser Linda Mayo. ‘We haven’t charged anyone with anything.’ The largest stack by far related to deaths of owners, some reaching back to 2004, in which the conservation had never been released. In one case, the deed was dated two years after the owner’s death. Some were found when the new owners tried to re-enter conservation. Others were sales to private owners who qualified but never came in to apply. Assessors approved the letters but asked Mayo to bring breaches to their attention as they are found instead of only in January. She noted owners can only change their CUVA status in January, which means people could wait months to take care of the issue.

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