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Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education v. Delaware County Board of Revision

Supreme Court of Ohio

November 2, 2017

Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education, Appellant,
v.
Delaware County Board of Revision et al., Appellees.

          Submitted July 11, 2017

         Appeal from the Board of Tax Appeals, No. 2012-4555.

          Rich & Gillis Law Group, L.L.C., Mark H. Gillis, and Kelley A. Gorry, for appellant.

          Thompson Hine, L.L.P., and Thomas Wyatt Palmer, for appellee Algoma Group.

          PER CURIAM.

         {¶ 1} This case returns to this court after we issued a remand order based on the parties' stipulation that the Board of Tax Appeals ("BTA") should address certain issues. See 141 Ohio St.3d 1462, 2015-Ohio-370, 24 N.E.3d 1180. On remand, the BTA addressed those issues and adopted the appraisal valuation of the owner's appraiser for the second time, and appellant, Olentangy Local Schools Board of Education ("BOE"), has again appealed.[1] According to the BOE, the law required that the property be valued as if unencumbered, pursuant to Muirfield Assn., Inc. v. Franklin Cty. Bd. of Revision, 73 Ohio St.3d 710, 654 N.E.2d 110 (1995). The BOE also argues that the BTA's reliance on the appraisal is unsupported by the record, and it calls for the reinstatement of the auditor's valuation. We disagree, and we therefore affirm.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         {¶ 2} At issue is the tax-year-2011 value of a vacant 22.27-acre parcel that is zoned "planned residential district" and is subject to a homeowners'-association agreement. The agreement creates easement rights in a "common access driveway" for neighboring parcels as well as an easement to enjoy a pond. The easements encompass slightly more than half of the parcel.

         {¶ 3} The Delaware County auditor originally valued the property at $654, 100, and the property owner, appellee Algoma Group, filed a complaint with the Delaware County Board of Revision ("BOR"). Algoma presented an appraisal by Samuel D. Koon, a member of the Appraisal Institute, who determined a value of $26, 000 per acre, totaling $580, 000 (after rounding) for the 22.27 acres. The BOR also certified as part of the record transmitted to the BTA a study by the county's own appraiser indicating a total value of $530, 000 (approximately $24, 000 per acre).

         {¶ 4} The BOR ordered a reduction to $580, 000 after adopting Koon's appraisal, and the BOE appealed to the BTA, which affirmed the adoption of the appraisal. Pursuant to this court's remand order, the BTA addressed (1) whether an appraisal valuing the property as encumbered for tax year 2011 can be considered competent and probative evidence and (2) whether one of the tax commissioner's rules requires real property to be valued as encumbered for tax year 2011. BTA No. 2012-4555, 2015 Ohio Tax LEXIS 2802, *1-2 (June 22, 2015). Taking the second issue first, the BTA held that Ohio Adm.Code 5703-25-11(B) did not require real property to be valued as encumbered for tax year 2011. Id. at *7-8, quoting Alliance Towers, Ltd. v. Stark Cty. Bd. of Revision, 37 Ohio St.3d 16, 523 N.E.2d 826 (1988), paragraph one of the syllabus (for " 'real property tax purposes, the fee simple estate is to be valued as if it were unencumbered' "). Regarding the first issue, the BTA determined that Koon's appraisal report "properly supports his ultimate opinion of value, even if the deed restrictions on the subject property are not considered." Id. at *8. The BTA identified aspects of the appraisal that led it to accord the appraisal probative force.

         {¶ 5} On appeal, the BOE advances three propositions of law:

1. Algoma's appraiser valued the subject property as encumbered by private, voluntary deed restrictions in violation of Muirfield.
2. The second BTA decision is not supported by the record.
3. Algoma did not affirmatively negate the auditor's ...

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