June 18, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Real Estate Transaction-Broker’s Duties are Statutory and Cannot Be Contracted Away

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Colorado Real Estate Commission v. Vizzi on Thursday, March 7, 2019.

Administrative Law—Real Estate License—Transaction-Broker—Mandatory Duties—Federal Antitrust Law—Due Process—Sanctions.

Vizzi entered into contracts in 2013 and 2014 with three clients to provide unbundled real estate brokerage services in exchange for a flat fee. In one instance, he contracted only to list the client’s property on the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) list. In two other instances, he contracted only to provide a yard sign, a lock box, and centralized showing services, and to list the properties on the MLS. An anonymous informant notified the Colorado Real Estate Commission (Commission) of Vizzi’s practices and the Commission charged Vizzi with failing to fulfill his statutory duties under C.R.S. § 12-61-807(2). An administrative law judge (ALJ) found that Vizzi was required to provide his clients all of the services listed C.R.S. § 12-61-807(2) and failed to do so in the transactions at issue. The Commission adopted the ALJ’s findings of fact and conclusions of law and modified the discipline imposed on Vizzi to include public censure.

On appeal, Vizzi maintained that he was permitted by statute to contract out of many of the duties imposed on transaction-brokers under C.R.S. § 12-61-807(2) and the contracts in question successfully accomplished that goal. A transaction-broker’s statutory duties are mandatory and cannot be contracted away. Here, the record supports the ALJ’s findings that Vizzi intended not to act as a transaction-broker and manifested that intent by inserting language into the contracts disclaiming the duties of such a broker, and Vizzi violated C.R.S. §§ 12-61-113(1)(k), 12-61-113(1)(n), and 12-61-803(1).

Vizzi also argued that the Commission’s policy prohibiting the provision of limited real estate services violates federal antitrust law. The Commission’s discipline of defendant for failing to perform his statutory duties fell within the Commission’s statutory authority and is properly considered state sovereign action. Therefore, it did not violate federal antitrust laws.

Vizzi next maintained that the ALJ violated his due process rights by denying his motion to compel disclosure of the identity of the anonymous complainant. Vizzi did not show how the complainant’s identity was relevant to his ability to defend against the Commission’s charges. Therefore, the Commission did not err in upholding the ALJ’s denial of Vizzi’s motion to compel disclosure of the anonymous complainant.

Vizzi further contended that the Commission exceeded its statutory authority and thus violated his due process rights when it imposed public censure after the ALJ had imposed only a fine and continuing education. Alternatively, Vizzi argued the decision to impose public censure was arbitrary and capricious. Vizzi violated his statutory duties multiple times after the Commission’s December 2010 position statement put him on notice that the listing contracts he prepared in 2013 and 2014 were improper. And the public censure penalty was sought in the initial charge against Vizzi. Therefore, the Commission acted within its statutory authority by imposing a sanction beyond that imposed by the ALJ, and the Commission’s sanction bore some relation to Vizzi’s misconduct and to the needs of the public.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: BAA Did Not Err in Determining Contiguous Parcel was “Vacant Land”

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Martin Trust v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, February 7, 2019.

Taxation—Property Tax—Residential Property—Vacant Land.

The Martins bought two adjacent parcels of land in La Plata County. The east parcel (the residential parcel) contains the Martins’ home on a .62-acre lot, and the west parcel (the adjacent lot) is an unimproved .72-acre lot that adjoins the residential parcel’s western boundary. For tax year 2014, the Martin Family Partnership, LLLP (the partnership) held the title to the adjacent lot and the Martins held the title to the residential parcel as joint tenants. The partnership and the Martins thereafter transferred title to both parcels to the Martin Trust (the Trust), which held the titles for tax years 2015 to 2016.

The County Assessor classified the adjacent lot as vacant land for tax years 2014 to 2016, and the Trust sought to have it reclassified as residential. It appealed the Assessor’s decision to the Board of Equalization of La Plata County and the Board of County Commissioners of La Plata County (collectively, the Boards). The Boards denied both appeals. The Trust appealed those decisions to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA). The BAA upheld the County Assessor’s 2014 classification of the adjacent lot as vacant land, finding that the parcels were not under common ownership because they were separately titled and the owners were “separate and distinct legal entities.” For the 2015 to 2016 classifications, the BAA partially granted the Trust’s appeal, stating it was persuaded by the Trust’s claim that there would be a loss of views if a residence was constructed on the adjacent lot. But the BAA determined that only two-thirds of the adjacent lot was used as a unit in conjunction with the residential parcel for maintaining views from that parcel, and on that basis, it ordered that only the two-thirds portion of the adjacent lot be reclassified as residential.

On appeal, the Trust contended that the BAA erred when it concluded that the adjacent lot was vacant land for tax year 2014 and partly vacant land for tax years 2015 to 2016. Conversely, the Boards contended that the BAA erred when it reclassified the adjacent lot as residential land for tax years 2015 to 2016. The majority concluded that for two contiguous parcels of land to both qualify as “residential land” (1) one parcel must have a residence on it, (2) the other must have a man-made structure or water rights that are an integral part of the use of the residence on the neighboring parcel, and (3) the land must be used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements on the parcels. Further, the requirement that contiguous parcels be used as a unit does not include the “use” of vacant land by looking across it at objects beyond the land. Here, there is no evidence that there are any structures on the adjacent lot that are an integral part of the residence on the residential parcel. Therefore, the adjacent lot does not qualify as residential land.

The BAA’s order for tax year 2014 denying residential land designation regarding the adjacent lot was affirmed, and the order for tax years 2015 to 2016 granting such designation for the adjacent lot was reversed. The case was remanded for issuance of an order consistent with the majority’s opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Condominium Unit Owners Not Indispensable Parties Because Condominium Association Can Adequately Represent Owners’ Interests

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re Accetta v. Brooks Towers Residences Condominium Association on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Civil Procedure—Joinder—Declaratory Judgments—Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act

In this original proceeding pursuant to C.A.R. 21, the supreme court reviewed the district court’s order requiring plaintiff to join as indispensable parties the approximately 500 individual unit owners in the Brooks Tower Residences (Brooks Tower) rather than proceeding solely against his condominium association and its board members. Plaintiff sought, among other things, a declaratory judgment invalidating a provision of his condominium association’s declaration that provides for ownership interests to be allocated in the sole discretion of the declarant. The district court concluded that all of the Brooks Tower unit owners are indispensable parties and must be joined. The supreme court issued a rule to show cause why the district court’s ruling should not be vacated. The court concluded that the condominium association can adequately represent the interests of the absent unit owners for purposes of plaintiff’s declaratory judgment action. Therefore, plaintiff need not join those absent owners. The court made the rule to show cause absolute.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Inverse Condemnation Claim Grounded in Ownership, Not Use, and Therefore Outside Jurisdiction of Water Court

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Allen v. State of Colorado on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

Water Court Jurisdiction—“Water Matters”—Water Ownership versus Water Use.

This case concerns whether a water court has jurisdiction to consider a claim for inverse condemnation alleging a judicial taking of shares in a mutual ditch company. The water court dismissed plaintiff-appellant’s inverse condemnation claim, concluding that his claim was “grounded in ownership and the conveyance of that ownership, not use,” and therefore the claim was not a water matter within the exclusive jurisdiction of the water court. The supreme court agreed and thus affirmed the water court’s dismissal order.

Summary provided courtesy ofColorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Limitations Period for Invalidating Conservation Easement Tax Credit Begins when Donor Claims Credit

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in State of Colorado v. Medved on Monday, January 14, 2019.

Conservation Easement Tax Credits—Statute of Limitations.

The supreme court held that the statute of limitations period within which the Colorado Department of Revenue (the Department) may invalidate a conservation easement (CE) tax credit begins when the CE donor first claims the CE tax credit.

In this case, the transferees of a portion of CE tax credit claimed the credit before the donor/transferor did. The Department later disallowed the credit in its entirety. The transferees argued that the statute of limitations period began when they claimed the credit and that the Department disallowed the credit too late. The Department asserted, in accordance with its regulation, that the period began when the donor/transferor claimed the credit and that the disallowance occurred before the period expired.

C.R.S. § 39-22-522(7)(i) states that the CE donor shall “represent[] and bind[] the transferees with respect to . . . the statute of limitations.” Based on the plain language of the statute, the Court concluded that the statute of limitations period begins only when the CE donor first claims the CE tax credit. Thus, the limitations period here had not expired when the Department disallowed the claimed credit. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Did Not Completely Discharge Mandate in Taylor Ranch Case Because Identification Process Was Not Comprehensive

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Cielo Vista Ranch I, LLC v. Alire on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

Real Property—Public Lands.

Fifteen years ago, the Colorado Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court with instructions to “identify all landowners who have access rights to the Taylor Ranch.” In 2004, the district court began identifying and decreeing access rights for landowners in the San Luis Valley whose land was settled by 1869. From 2004 until 2010, the district court relied on the best available evidence to decree access rights for individual landowners without requiring any landowner to come forward to assert a claim (the opt-out process). After 2010, the district court decreed access rights for only those landowners who came forward to assert claims (the opt-in process). In October 2016, the trial court issued a final order that certified all prior orders, adjudicating 26 access rights for landowners as final and appealable pursuant to C.R.C.P. 54(b). Remaining landowner claimants were not foreclosed from coming forward in the future.

Appellants in this case are CVR Properties, Ltd., Jaroso Creek Ranch, LLC, and Western Properties Investors LLC, the owners of Cielo Vista Ranch and other properties that were once known as the Taylor Ranch (the Ranch) (collectively, Ranch Owner). Appellees are landowners in Costilla County whose rights to access the Ranch to graze livestock and gather firewood and timber were decreed through the remand proceedings.

On appeal, Ranch Owner challenged the trial court’s implementation of the supreme court’s mandate on remand. The opt-out proceedings on remand from 2004 through 2010 were largely consistent with the mandate. But as to the opt-in process from 2010 through 2016, the district court did not completely discharge the mandate because that portion of the identification process could have been, but was not, comprehensive. The trial court mistakenly concluded that it was bound by the law of the case doctrine to implement an opt-in process during the last phase on remand.

The October 2016 order was reversed to the extent it requires any remaining landowners entitled to access to the Ranch to come forward. The case was remanded for the trial court to identify all remaining owners of benefited lands and adjudicate their rights. In all other respects the order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Restrictive Covenant Is Not Compensable Property Interest in Eminent Domain Case

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Town of Monument v. State of Colorado on Thursday, October 4, 2018.

Real Property—Eminent Domain—Restrictive Covenant—Compensable Property Interest.

The Town of Monument (the Town) bought a parcel of real property in a residential subdivision. The Town intended to construct a municipal water storage tank on the lot, but a restrictive covenant prohibiting such structures applied to all lots in the subdivision. The Town filed this case, seeking to use its power of eminent domain to have the court declare its property free of the restrictive covenant. Some lot owners in the subdivision intervened in the case and argued that because the restrictive covenant benefits all property in the subdivision, the Town cannot eliminate the restrictive covenant on its lot without paying every property owner in the subdivision an amount compensating each of them for the loss in value to their respective properties. The district court agreed with the landowners, and the parties stipulated to a dismissal of the case with prejudice.

On appeal, the Town argued that the district court erred in finding that the restrictive covenant was a compensable property interest to the surrounding landowners. The court of appeals determined that under Smith v. Clifton Sanitation District, 300 P.2d 548 (Colo. 1956), a restrictive covenant banning certain uses of property is not a compensable property interest in an eminent domain case.

The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Strict Privity Rule Bars Claims Against Attorneys by Non-Clients

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Bewley v. Semler on Monday, September 24, 2018.

Strict Privity—Standing—Pleading.

In this case, the supreme court considered whether the strict privity rule bars claims against attorneys by non-clients absent a showing of fraud, malicious conduct, or negligent misrepresentation. The court held that, absent any wrongdoing, the strict privity rule does bar claims against attorneys by non-clients because holding otherwise may force attorneys to place non-clients’ interests ahead of clients’ interests. Here, because Semler did not allege any fraud, malicious conduct, or negligent misrepresentation, he lacked standing to assert a breach-of-contract claim.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: CCIOA Requires Execution and Recording of Amending Documents to Subdivide Parking Garage

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Perfect Place, LLC v. Semler on Monday, September 17, 2018.

Common Interest Communities—Quieting Title—Deeds.

In this quiet title action, the supreme court reviewed whether the owner of a garage condominium unit validly subdivided the unit under C.R.S. § 38-33.3-213 of the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act by merely painting or marking lines on the garage wall, and thereafter separately conveying the spaces thus marked as individual condominium parking units. Because C.R.S. § 38-33.3-213(3) provides that “no subdivision of units shall be effected” without executing and recording the necessary amendments to the condominium declaration, and because no documents were recorded in connection with his purported subdivision, the court held that the owner did not accomplish a valid subdivision of the garage unit in this case. The court further held that a quitclaim deed obtained from the owner was not void for fraud in the factum. Although evidence in the record suggests the owner may have been deceived as to the purpose of the deed, fraud in the factum requires proof that the grantor was ignorant as to the nature of the instrument itself. Here, the owner understood that he was signing a quitclaim deed, even if he failed to appreciate the ramifications of his act. Accordingly, the court reversed the court of appeals’ judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings to determine the resulting chain of title for the disputed parking units.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Marijuana Business Cannot Cultivate Marijuana as Accessory Use When Zoning Code Precludes Cultivation for Primary Use

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Colorado Health Consultants v. City & County of Denver on Thursday, September 6, 2018.

Retail MarijuanaCultivation as an Accessory UseVested InterestEquitable EstoppelTaking.

Colorado Health Consultants, d/b/a Starbuds (Starbuds), is a retail marijuana business located in an I-MX-3 zone, which is a special context zone for industrial mixed use. In 2013, the zoning authority issued Starbuds a zoning permit for retail sales. Starbuds separately applied with the Department of Excise and Licenses (Department) for a retail marijuana cultivation (RMC) license, which was issued in 2014. The following year, Starbuds sought renewal of the RMC license and, following an uncontested hearing required by the Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC), the license was renewed.

Starbuds again sought renewal in 2016. The DRMC had been revised and a hearing was no longer required, so the Department immediately renewed the RMC license. Several days later the Department discovered that an interested party had requested a hearing on the renewal application. A hearing was held at which Starbuds argued that under DRMC § 6-214(a)(1), the Department was not authorized to conduct a hearing. In a detailed written recommendation the hearing officer recommended the Department deny the renewal request. She found that plant husbandry was not a permitted use in the I-MX-3 zone and the original license had been issued in error. She also rejected Starbuds’ argument that plant husbandry was a permitted “accessory use.” The Department adopted the findings and denied the renewal.

Starbuds filed a C.R.C.P. 106(a)(4) complaint arguing that the Department did not have the authority to hold a public hearing on the renewal application because plant husbandry was a permitted accessory use. It also alleged that the Department was equitably estopped from denying its renewal application and the denial was an unconstitutional taking. The district court affirmed the Department’s order.

On appeal, Starbuds first contended that the Department abused its discretion and legally erred in concluding that plant husbandry is not a permitted accessory use in an I-MX-3 zone and that its zoning permit did not authorize plant husbandry. An RMC license requires that the retail marijuana establishment be located in a zone “where, at the time of application for the license, plant husbandry is authorized as a permitted use under the zoning code,” with a few exceptions. The parties agreed that plant husbandry is not permitted in the I-MX-3 zone. Starbuds argued, however, that marijuana cultivation is a permitted, unlisted accessory use based on the zoning administrator’s issuance of its retail sales permit. The Department rejected this argument because “retail sales” was the only use permitted by the permit. The court of appeals held that because plant husbandry is prohibited as a primary use, it cannot be an accessory use, so the RMC license renewal application was properly denied.

Starbuds then challenged the Department’s subject matter jurisdiction to conduct a hearing under DRMC § 6-214(a)(2) and (3), given that the Department could only have issued the RMC license under § 6-214(a)(1), which contains no hearing provision. The Department separately possessed the discretionary authority to conduct a hearing under DRMC § 32-30. Further, plant husbandry is not a permitted primary or accessory use in an I-MX-3 zone, and therefore Starbuds was never eligible to receive an RMC license in the first instance.

Starbuds further argued that the district court erred in finding that equitable estoppel did not apply to provide it relief, contending that the Department’s decision to hold a hearing caused an injury. First, it was unlikely that Starbuds detrimentally changed its position in reliance on the approval in the nine days between the application approval and its revocation. The record supports the trial court’s finding that the Department mistakenly issued the RMC license in the first place, and Starbuds presented no evidence that its reliance on an unlawfully issued license was reasonable. Moreover, Starbuds was not ignorant of the provision that plant husbandry was not permitted in its zone.

Starbuds last contended that the denial of its RMC license was an unconstitutional taking because it had a reasonable expectation of continued licensure and did not receive due process. There is no vested right in the renewal of a license, and nothing precludes Starbuds’ continued operation as a retail establishment, which was the primary use for which it was zoned. And Starbuds was afforded due process through the renewal hearing. The Department’s denial of Starbuds’ RMC license renewal application did not constitute an unconstitutional taking.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Special District Act Does Not Require Consent of Mineral Estate Owners to Expand Boundaries of District

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Bill Barrett Corp. v. Lembke on Thursday, September 6, 2018.

Preliminary InjunctionSpecial DistrictMineral EstatesPower to TaxSummary Judgment.

In 2009, the Sand Hills Metropolitan District (Sand Hills) included the 70 Ranch within its boundaries and began assessing ad valorem taxes on the oil and gas extracted from the mineral estate. Plaintiffs Bill Barrett Corporation and Bonanza Creek Energy, Inc., and intervenor Noble Energy, Inc. (lessees), challenged these taxes and obtained summary judgment in Weld County District Court. Both sides appealed. In that appeal, the division agreed with the district court that when Sand Hills included the 70 Ranch it was a material departure from its 2004 service plan, which required approval from the Weld County Board of County Commissioners. Because that approval had not been obtained, the division held that Sand Hills lacked taxing authority after 2009.

Following entry of the summary judgment and before the Sand Hills appeal was filed, Lembke and 70 Ranch, LLC (the LLC) (collectively, defendants) petitioned South Beebe Draw Metropolitan District (South Beebe) to include the 70 Ranch. Defendants owned the surface estate where all of lessees’ well heads are located. Lessees were not notified of this action. South Beebe resolved to include the 70 Ranch, and the Adams County District Court approved the inclusion. Lessees filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent South Beebe from taxing oil and gas that lessees produce from the mineral estate underlying the 70 Ranch. The trial court denied the motion and entered summary judgment that under C.R.S. § 32-1-401, the severed mineral estate underlying the 70 Ranch could not be included within South Beebe because all the owners and lessees of that estate did not petition for and consent to inclusion. Lessees obtained a temporary restraining order in the Weld County District Court that prohibited the Weld County Treasurer, who had collected the disputed taxes, from disbursing the monies to South Beebe. Venue was transferred to Adams County and, following an evidentiary hearing on lessees’ motion for a preliminary injunction, the court found lessees had not shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits and denied the motion. Later, the court entered a final judgment against lessees on their C.R.S. § 32-1-401 claim. Lessees appealed and asked that the status quo be preserved by enjoining the treasurer from disbursing taxes collected to South Beebe. A motions division granted the request.

On appeal, lessees argued that without their consent and that of the other mineral estate owners, the 70 Ranch, or at least the underlying mineral estate, could not have been included within South Beebe. South Beebe responded that because the mineral and surface estates were severed, only the surface owners needed to petition for and consent to inclusion, and all of them did. The court of appeals first held that mineral estate owners are “fee owners,” but lessees are not. Next, because the parties agreed and the record supports that not all of the mineral estate owners consented to the 70 Ranch’s inclusion, the court considered whether South Beebe’s services can benefit the mineral estate. Because lessees did not argue that the mineral estate owners would benefit from the inclusion, the court concluded that lack of consent by all mineral estate owners did not preclude South Beebe from taxing lessees. Consequently, the court affirmed the trial court’s entry of summary judgment as to lessee’s C.R.S. § 32-1-401(1)(a) claim.

Lessees also challenged the trial court’s ruling that lessees had not shown a reasonable probability of successfully establishing that South Beebe had violated C.R.S. § 32-1-207(2)(a) by failing to obtain Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approval for a material change in its service plan, because it had obtained approval from the planning commission. However, the court found that the actions of the planning commission and other officials did not satisfy the requirement that South Beebe had to obtain BOCC approval for a material modification of its service plan. Therefore, lessees have a reasonable probability of success in establishing that South Beebe did not obtain the requisite BOCC approval. Further, the trial court dissolved the temporary restraining order and denied a preliminary injunction on this ground alone, without considering the other factors set forth in Rathke v. MacFarlane, 648 P.2d 648, 651 (Colo. 1982).

Lessees also argued that it was error to conclude that South Beebe’s inclusion of the 70 Ranch was not a material modification. Boundary changes alone are presumptively not material modifications, and the court found that inclusion of the 70 Ranch was just a boundary change. Thus, the trial court acted within its discretion in ruling that lessees had not shown a reasonable probability of success in challenging inclusion of the 70 Ranch as an unapproved material modification.

Finally, lessees argued that under C.R.S. § 32-1-107(2), South Beebe could not levy and collect taxes to support services if those services are already being provided by another special district (in this case, Sand Hills). The court agreed with the trial court that the statute prohibits overlapping services, not merely overlapping territory. Here, no party asked the court to resolve the factual question of overlapping services, thus the question of whether the services were overlapping was not properly before the court.

The summary judgment on lessees’ C.R.S. § 32-1-401(1)(a) claim was affirmed. The order denying lessees’ motion for a preliminary injunction was vacated. The case was remanded for the trial court to make findings on the remaining Rathke factors and reconsider whether to enter a preliminary injunction. The temporary injunction will remain in effect until the trial court enters its renewed ruling on the motion for preliminary injunction.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Assessor Authorized to Reevaluate Property in Non-Tax Year if Original Assessment Incorrect when Originally Done

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Thibodeau v. Denver County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, August 23, 2018.

Revaluation of Taxes—Incorrect Original Valuation—Equal Protection—Colorado Constitution’s Uniformity Clause.

Thibodeau purchased a residence in 2013. Earlier that year, the property was valued at $803,800 for ad valorem tax purposes. In 2014, it was revalued at $1,169,700. Thibodeau unsuccessfully protested the increase with the City and County of Denver Assessor’s Office before petitioning for abatement from the Denver County Board of Commissioners, sitting as the Denver County Board of Equalization (BOE). He argued that it was error to reassess the property in an intervening year because no unusual condition existed. The BOE rejected his claim and upheld the reassessment.

Thibodeau appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), which concluded that the mischaracterization of the property’s condition as average, rather than good, had led to an incorrect 2013 assessment, and therefore the assessor was permitted to correct the assessment in the intervening year.

On appeal, Thibodeau argued that the BAA erred in upholding the reassessment because C.R.S. § 39-1-104(11)(b)(1) only allows redeterminations in intervening years when unusual conditions exist, and no unusual conditions existed. C.R.S. § 39-1-104(11)(b)(1) authorizes assessors to correct incorrect property assessments in intervening years to set the value at what it would have been set in the assessment year had the mistake not occurred. Further adjustments cannot be made absent proof of an unusual condition. Here, the assessor’s records indicated that the property had not been remodeled since its construction in 1938. But after the assessment was completed in 2013, the property was listed for sale with pictures and a description showing renovations and remodeling. Thibodeau did not present evidence that the BOE’s corrected value was incorrect. Conversely, there was competent evidence that the original assessment was incorrect due to a misidentification of the condition of the property. Accordingly, the assessor was permitted and required to correct the assessment in 2014.

Thibodeau also argued that the BOE’s off-cycle reassessment violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Here, no fundamental right or suspect class was implicated. The assessment was based on discovery of an incorrect determination of the property’s condition, not because of the property’s sale, and similarly situated properties also undergo the sales verification process. The court of appeals found no equal protection concerns.

Thibodeau further argued that the revaluation violated the Colorado Constitution’s Uniformity Clause. The protections of this clause are coextensive with the federal Equal Protection Clause, and because there was no equal protection violation, this argument failed as well.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.