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Bringle Family Trust v. Board of County Commissioners of Summit County

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

May 3, 2018

Bringle Family Trust, Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
Board of County Commissioners of Summit County, Colorado, Respondent-Appellee, and Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals, Appellee.

          Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals Case No. 68817

          Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, F. Brittin Clayton III, Denver, Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellant

          Jeffrey L. Huntley, County Attorney, Franklin Celico, Assistant County Attorney, Breckenridge, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellee

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Emmy A. Langley, Assistant Solicitor General, Denver, Colorado, for Appellee

          ORDER

          FOX, JUDGE

         ¶ 1 This property tax appeal concerns two land parcels - one classified as residential and one as vacant - owned by the Bringle Family Trust (the Trust). The Trust appeals the order of the Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals (the Board) upholding one parcel's classification as vacant, rather than residential, land. Because the Board correctly determined that the Trust failed to show that the vacant parcel satisfied the contiguity requirement of section 39-1-102(14.4)(a), C.R.S. 2017, which is necessary to obtain property tax reclassification as residential land, we affirm.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 The Trust owns a parcel of land in Summit County, Colorado (the residential parcel). The Trust also owns a parcel of land (the subject parcel) located across a public road from the residential parcel. The road between the Trust's parcels is a public right-of-way maintained by the Bills Ranch Subdivision Association. The parcels, depicted below, are platted lots in the Bills Ranch Subdivision.

         (Image Omitted)

         ¶ 3 Charles Bringle is the owner representative of the Trust. Bringle's parents purchased separate, adjacent parcels of land - that now constitute the subject parcel - during the 1950s. Bringle's parents built a home and an outhouse on the subject parcel around 1951. About ten years later, Bringle's parents purchased separate, adjacent parcels that now comprise the residential parcel. Around 1962, Bringle's parents moved the house - but not the outhouse - from the subject parcel to the residential parcel in order to make additions to the house. In 1995, the subject and residential parcels - which were six distinct parcels when purchased - were replatted into two parcels separated by a public road.

         ¶ 4 In early 2016, the Trust petitioned the Board of County Commissioners of Summit County (the County) for an abatement or refund of taxes pursuant to section 39-10-114, C.R.S. 2017, arguing that the subject parcel's property tax assessment classification should be changed from vacant to residential for tax years 2013 to 2015. During those years, the subject parcel was taxed at a rate about three times higher than the residential parcel's rate because of its vacant land classification. The County denied the Trust's petitions in March 2016.

         ¶ 5 In April 2016, the Trust appealed the County's decision, petitioning the Board to reclassify the subject parcel from vacant to residential for 2013 to 2015. The Trust and the County disputed whether the subject parcel was "contiguous" to the residential parcel and was "used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements located thereon" as contemplated by section 39-1-102(14.4)(a). After a hearing, the Board denied the Trust's petition in a January 2017 order, finding against the Trust on both issues.

         II. The Board's Order

         ¶ 6 The Trust contends that the Board erroneously denied its petition by misconstruing section 39-1-102(14.4)(a) to conclude that the subject parcel was not contiguous to the residential parcel or "used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements located thereon." According to the Trust, two non-touching parcels may satisfy section 39-1-102(14.4)(a)'s contiguity element if "they are in close proximity and are ...


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