Palenville’s pagans

In The Watershed Post, Julia Reischel has an excellent, long feature about Cathryn Platine and The Maetreum, a three-story former inn once known as Central House, is run by a non-profit called the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater (MCMM). While the IRS recognizes the Palenville pagan enclave as a non-profit religion, the Town of Catskill wants the $12,627.35 in property tax on The Maetreum, and Platine is taking them to court. Reischel’s story can be boiled down to a few paragraphs:

“We’re not saying they’re not a religious organization,” [Catskill Town Assessor Nancy] McCoy says. “We’re saying the property’s use does not meet the requirement for full tax exemption.” To qualify, a religious group has to show that it is using the property primarily for religious purposes — and that’s where the Maetreum fails, she says. According to [Town lawyer, Daniel] Vincelette’s report, the Maetreum is really a gender-bending housing project: “The primary purpose of the property is residential, to house and shelter transgendered individuals,” it concludes. “I read through that document and felt strongly that they were not entitled to the exemption,” McCoy says. Platine doesn’t deny that before formally becoming the seat of the Maetreum’s faith, the inn was used as an emergency shelter for homeless transsexual women. (Platine herself is intersexed, and has been a transgender activist for decades.) But the inn ceased functioning as a shelter years ago, she says, and now only three people, all priestesses of Cybele, live there. Vincelette says that the Maetreum isn’t the only religious group to have its land taxed; last year, he says, the town put land owned by the Catholic church that wasn’t being used for religious purposes on the rolls as well. “Every single religious group in the town of the Catskill is being treated the same,” he says. “Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of anger on Cathryn’s part. I don’t think she fully understands the legal issues.” Read the entire story in The Watershed Post.

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