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Chagrin River Hardwood Co. v. Ashtabula County Board of Revision

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Ashtabula

June 5, 2017

CHAGRIN RIVER HARDWOOD CO., Appellant,
v.
ASHTABULA COUNTY BOARD OF REVISION, et al., Appellee.

         Administrative Appeal from the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2013 CV 00921.

          Matthew M. Nee, Nee Law Firm, LLC, (For Appellant).

          Nicholas A. Iarocci, Ashtabula County Prosecutor, and Robert L. Herman, Assistant Prosecutor, Ashtabula County Courthouse, (For Appellee).

          OPINION

          COLLEEN MARY OTOOLE, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Chagrin River Hardwood Co. ("Chagrin River"), appeals from the May 17, 2016 judgment of the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas, overruling Chagrin River's administrative appeal and affirming the decision of appellee, Ashtabula County Board of Revision ("Board of Revision"), denying current agricultural use valuation for Chagrin River's parcels of land. In this appeal, Chagrin River asserts the trial court erred by applying a "use" rather than a "devoted to" standard alleging that it devoted its land exclusively to agriculture. Finding no error, we affirm.

         {¶2} Chagrin River is the owner of several parcels of real property in Ashtabula County. Chagrin River is engaged in commercially growing and harvesting timber. Through the 1970s, Chagrin River regularly logged the subject property. Around that time, Chagrin River determined the property had been excessively harvested. As a result, Chagrin River discontinued logging on the property. Chagrin River recognized it would take 35 to 50 years to re-grow timber that would be sufficiently mature for commercial harvest.

         {¶3} The parcels at issue have been taxed at a reduced tax valuation known as the current agricultural use value, since the CAUV program was created in 1973. For the 2012 tax year, the Ashtabula County Auditor denied Chagrin River's CAUV qualification. From the Auditor's point of view, Chagrin River, for a number of years, has not engaged in any physical activity on the property that would tend to prove that it was cultivating trees for commercial purposes.

         {¶4} Chagrin River filed a taxpayer complaint regarding the valuation of certain real property. On August 19, 2013, the Board of Revision held a hearing on the complaint. The Board of Revision agreed with the Auditor and found that Chagrin River, for a number of years, has not engaged in any physical activity on the property that would tend to prove that it was cultivating trees for commercial purposes.

         {¶5} On December 23, 2013, Chagrin River filed a complaint for an administrative appeal before the Ashtabula County Court of Common Pleas. A hearing was held on January 26, 2015. On May 17, 2016, the trial court overruled Chagrin River's administrative appeal and affirmed the Board of Revision's decision denying current agricultural use valuation for the various parcels of land. Chagrin River filed the instant appeal and asserts the following assignment of error:

         {¶6} "The trial court erred by applying a 'use' rather than a 'devoted to' standard because Chagrin River devoted its land exclusively to agricultural use."

         {¶7} Chagrin River presents two issues under its sole assignment of error:

         {¶8} "[1] Did the trial court err when it applied a 'use' standard, rather than a 'devoted to' standard?

         {¶9} "[2.] Did Chagrin River comply with the Ohio Constitution and Ohio Revised Code Chapter 5713, regardless of whether the court applies a 'use' standard or a 'devoted to' standard?"

         {¶10} As Chagrin River's issues are interrelated, we ...


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