The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in Andrew v. Teller County Board of Equalization on June 21, 2012.
Property Taxes—Nonagricultural Classification.
Respondent Teller County Board of Equalization (BOE) placed a nonagricultural classification on petitioner’s (taxpayer) land. Petitioner appealed the Board of Assessment Appeals’ (BAA) denial of her challenges. The Court of Appeals affirmed the BAA’s ruling.
The subject property is a thirty-five-acre parcel that taxpayer purchased in 1998. It is in a subdivision containing other thirty-five- and twenty-acre parcels. By 2010, nineteen of the parcels had improvements and seventeen were vacant. All the parcels are subject to a conservation easement established in 1990 for the preservation of wildlife habitat. The easement permits building areas of up to two acres on each parcel for residential purposes.
Taxpayer constructed a residence and received a certificate of occupancy in August 2009. Through the 2009 tax year, based on the conservation easement, the parcel was classified as agricultural land. Based on the completion of the residence, the county assessor changed the classification for the 2010 tax year to residential land.
Taxpayer challenged the reclassification before the BAA. She relied on the conservation easement, as well as farming and forestry uses on the land. The BOE asserted that the parcel is less than eighty acres and contains a residence, and that the other bases for agricultural classification had not been established. The BAA denied the petition and upheld the BOE’s classification.
Taxpayer had the burden of proof in the BAA proceedings to show any qualifying basis for classifying the subject parcel as agricultural. The Court looked to CRS § 39-1-102(1. 6)(a)(III), which governs the classification of land as agricultural for property tax purposes based on a perpetual conservation easement. Under this section, the parcel clearly does not qualify, because it is too small and has a residential improvement.
Summary and full case available here.