Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Warren
ADMINISTRATIVE APPEAL FROM THE OHIO BOARD OF TAX APPEALS No.
Coolidge Wall Co., L.P.A., Jonas J. Gruenberg, W. Chip Herin
III, 33 West First Street, Suite 200, Dayton, Ohio 45402, for
P. Fornshell, Warren County Prosecuting Attorney, Christopher
A. Watkins, 520 Justice Drive, Lebanon, Ohio 45036, for
appellees, Warren County Board of Revision and Warren County
C. DiMuzio, Matthew C. DiMuzio, 810 Sycamore Street, Sixth
Floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, for appellee, Springboro
Community City Schools Board of Education
1} Plaintiff-appellant, Eastbrook Farms, Inc.
appeals from the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals
concerning the valuation of Eastbrook's real property.
For the reasons discussed below, this court affirms the
2} Eastbrook owns approximately 83 acres of vacant
land located on State Route 73 in Springboro, Ohio. Twenty
acres are zoned residential with the remaining 63 acres zoned
"O" for office development. For the 2015 tax year,
the Warren County Auditor valued the property at $3, 191,
620. Eastbrook filed a complaint with the Warren County Board
of Revision (BOR) and asked for a reduction in value.
Springboro Community City Schools Board of Education
(Springboro), filed a counter-complaint asking the BOR to
maintain the appraised value.
3} At the BOR hearing, Eastbrook presented the
report and testimony of its appraiser, Stephen Weis. Weis
valued the property at $1, 792, 000. Weis opined that the
residential land had a value of $40, 000 per acre. Weis
determined that 13.5 acres of the office-zoned acreage was in
a flood zone and was unusable and he assigned this portion of
the property no value. Weis valued the remaining office land
at $20, 000 per acre, which he based on a comparison to other
4} The Auditor's appraiser testified at the
hearing and was critical of various aspects of Weis'
appraisal. The Auditor's appraiser also testified about
the methodology used to derive the Auditor's appraised
value. The BOR found that the Auditor's valuation was
justified and denied Eastbrook's complaint. Eastbrook
then appealed to the Board of Tax Appeals (BTA).
5} At the BTA hearing, Springboro presented the
report and testimony of its appraiser, James Burt. Burt
valued the property at $3, 325, 000. Burt agreed that the
residential portion of the land should be valued at $40, 000
per acre. However, Burt valued the office portion at $42, 000
per acre, including the acreage located in the flood zone.
Burt opined that the flood zone was useable as "green
space, storm water management, amenities, etc."
6} Eastbrook's counsel cross-examined Burt
concerning a portion of his report that indicated that the
office-zoned acreage could be improved with up to 75, 000
square feet of "supporting retail." The issue of
whether retail was a permitted use under the applicable
zoning and whether Burt appraised the property for retail
development became a point of contention during the BTA
hearing. Eastbrook repeatedly sought to establish, through
testimony and argument, that the "O" office zoning
for the property did not permit retail development.
7} Eastbrook called Weis for rebuttal testimony.
Weis explained that the land use plan for the area in which
the property was located envisioned 75, 000 square feet of
retail development. In other words, the property was located
in an area in which the city planners of Springboro
anticipated developing some retail, but Eastbrook could not
develop retail without a zoning change. Other evidence
adduced at the hearing indicated that a zoning change was
unlikely given Eastbrook's earlier unsuccessful attempts
to have the property re-zoned by the city of Springboro to
permit retail development. See Eastbrook Farms, Inc. v.
City of Springboro, Warren App. No. CA2003-08-080,
8} Springboro called Burt for rebuttal testimony.
Burt testified that he did not value the property based on
retail development and that his sales comparisons consisted
of office and or institutional-type developments.
9} After the evidentiary portion of the hearing,
Eastbrook sought leave to subm it a document containing a
table of permitted uses for the different zoning districts in
Springboro. This chart is part of the Springboro zoning
code. The BTA attorney examiner ...