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Davis v. Board of Revision

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District

July 29, 2013

ROGER P. DAVIS, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
BOARD OF REVISION, BUTLER COUNTY, OHIO, et al., Defendants-Appellees.


McGowan & Jacobs, LLC, Jack C. McGowan, for plaintiffs-appellants.

Michael T. Gmoser, Butler County Prosecuting Attorney, Susan S. Schultz, for defendants-appellees.

Gary T. Stedronsky, for defendant, Board of Education, Lakota Local Schools.



{¶ 1} Plaintiffs-appellants, Roger P. Davis and Deborah K. Davis, who is now deceased, appeal from the Butler County Court of Common Pleas decision regarding a real property valuation increase for the 2008 tax year.[1] For the reasons outlined below, we affirm.

{¶ 2} Davis, a builder and developer of property, is the owner of three parcels of land located at 7839 Hickory Lane, West Chester, Butler County, Ohio ("Property"). Davis' residence is located on one of the parcels, with the other two parcels consisting of unimproved land. In total, the Property measures approximately 2.8 acres.

{¶ 3} For the 2008 tax year, the Butler County Auditor ("Auditor") determined that the Property had a true value totaling $598, 330 - $548, 140 for the residence and $50, 190 for the land. In response, on March 31, 2009, Davis filed a complaint with the Butler County Board of Revision ("BOR") seeking a reduced valuation of the Property to $325, 820. As part of his complaint, Davis claimed that the home was only 80 percent complete with additional needed repairs. Davis also claimed that such an increase was improper in that the values of other homes in the area were depressed and had lost value.

{¶ 4} On August 13, 2009, the BOR held a hearing on the matter. At the hearing, Davis, along with his appraiser, Dan Carrelli, both testified. Specifically, Carrelli testified that the Auditor's property record incorrectly listed the house as having 6, 768 square feet of finished area when it actually only had approximately 4, 300 square feet of finished area. This was based on Carrelli's claim that the home is 80 percent complete and, except for a bathroom area, did not contain a finished basement. However, Davis testified that the house was only 75 percent complete, with only 4, 200 square feet of finished area and no basement bathroom. According to both Davis and Carrelli, the house is not complete because there is allegedly no deck off the kitchen, there are bare studs and plywood, no baseboards or window trim, and some areas contain only rafters and exposed insulation. Pictures of the alleged unfinished areas were also provided to the BOR.[2]

{¶ 5} Continuing, Carrelli testified that he believed the true value for the Property was $308, 840, and not $325, 820 as Davis previously claimed as part of his complaint. Carrelli reached this conclusion by analyzing a number of sales from an abutting neighborhood and organizing them into three categories based on the square footage of the home. This provided Carrelli with an average sale price of $90.00 per square foot. However, noting its good quality construction, Carrelli calculated Davis' home at $95.00 per square foot. This provided for a total value of the Property at $408, 500. Carrelli then reduced his valuation by approximately $100, 000 due to the alleged unfinished nature of the home and lightning damage to the chimney. Besides questioning Carrelli's untraditional appraisal methods, the Auditor did not present any evidence or testimony at the hearing.

{¶ 6} On September 8, 2009, BOR member and Auditor employee, Sam Powers, met Davis at the Property where Powers, along with two of his colleagues, conducted an exterior inspection of the home. Following this inspection, Powers prepared an extensive 20-page report responding to the evidence and testimony Davis and Carrelli presented during the hearing. As part of his report, Powers determined that the true value for the Property was not $598, 330 as the Auditor originally determined, but actually $635, 750.

{¶ 7} On November 23, 2009, without ever providing Davis with an opportunity to question his findings, Powers presented this material to the BOR and motioned for the BOR to approve his recommendations. The motion carried. Thereafter, on December 16, 2009, the BOR issued its decision valuing the Property at $635, 750.

{¶ 8} On January 13, 2010, Davis filed a notice of appeal from the BOR's decision with the Butler County Court of Common Pleas as provided under R.C. 5717.05. The common pleas court subsequently issued its decision on April 30, 2012. As part of that decision, the court stated:

The Court shares Davis's [sic] concerns and finds that a report prepared after the hearing by a board member that was not subject to cross examination can not [sic] ...

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