Robert W. Rust, Petitioner-Appellant,
Board of County Commissioners of Summit County, Colorado; and Board of Assessment Appeals, Respondents-Appellees.
of Assessment Appeals Case No. 68924
Carlock & Applewhite, F. Clayton, III, Denver, Colorado,
Jeffrey Huntley, County Attorney, Franklin Celico, Assistant
County Attorney, Breckenridge, Colorado, for
Respondent-Appellee Board of County Commissioners
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Krista Maher, Assistant
Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Respondent-Appellee
Board of Assessment Appeals
1 Petitioner, Robert W. Rust, appeals from the order of the
Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), which affirmed the
decision of the Board of County Commissioners of Summit
County, Colorado, denying his request to reclassify land for
tax purposes. We affirm.
2 Mr. Rust bought a parcel of residential property in Summit
County, Colorado. About a year later, he purchased the
adjacent, undeveloped parcel (the subject property). He and
his family have used the two parcels, primarily as a winter
vacation spot, for decades.
3 The county assessor classified the subject property as
vacant land for the years 2013-2015, subjecting it to a tax
rate that is nearly three times the rate for residential
property. Mr. Rust challenged that classification and sought
reclassification of the subject property, asserting that both
parcels should be classified as residential under section
39-1-102(14.4)(a), C.R.S. 2017. After a hearing, the BAA
4 Mr. Rust contends that the BAA misconstrued the "used
as a unit" element of section 39-1-102(14.4)(a). We
5 Review of the BAA's decision presents a mixed question
of law and fact. Aberdeen Inv'rs, Inc. v. Adams Cty.
Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 240 P.3d 398, 400 (Colo.App.
2009); Farny v. Bd. of Equalization, 985 P.2d 106,
109 (Colo.App. 1999); see § 24-4-106(7), C.R.S.
2017. Thus, we defer to the BAA's factual findings, but
review de novo its legal conclusions. "It is the
function of the BAA, not the reviewing court, to weigh the
evidence and resolve any conflicts." Bd. of
Assessment Appeals v. Sampson, 105 P.3d 198, 208 (Colo.
2005). We will uphold the BAA's property classification
"if it (1) has a reasonable basis in law and (2) is
supported by substantial evidence in the record."
O'Neil v. Conejos Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2017
COA 30, ¶ 11; see Sampson, 105 P.3d at 208 (We
will set aside the BAA's decision "only if it is
unsupported by competent evidence or if it reflects a failure
to abide by the statutory scheme for calculating property tax
6 The interpretation of statutes is a legal question that we
review de novo. Lobato v. Indus. Claim Appeals
Office, 105 P.3d 220, 223-24 (Colo. 2005). In so doing,
we give deference to, but are not bound by, the agency's
interpretation of the statutes it is charged with
administering, "provided the interpretation has a
reasonable basis in the law and is supported by the
record." Marshall v. Civil Serv. Comm'n,
2016 COA 156, ¶ 9; see BP Am. Prod. Co. v. Colo.
Dep't of Revenue, 2016 CO 23, ¶ 15; Bd. of
Cty. Comm'rs v. Colo. Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 157
P.3d 1083, 1088 (Colo. 2007); Aberdeen Inv'rs,
240 P.3d at 403. Our goal is to effectuate the legislative
intent, starting with the plain language of the statute.
BP Am. Prod., ¶ 15. If the words are
unambiguous, we apply them as written. Id. If,
however, they are reasonably susceptible of more than one
meaning, we may look to extrinsic sources to aid our
7 Section 39-1-102(14.4)(a) provides,
"'[r]esidential land' means a parcel or
contiguous parcels of land under common ownership upon which
residential improvements are located and that is used as a
unit in conjunction with the residential improvements located
thereon." In classifying land under this statute, county
assessors use the Assessor's Reference Library (ARL) for
guidance. The ARL further defines the "used as a
unit" element of the statute as "[p]arcels of land,
under common ownership, that are contiguous and used as an
integral part of a residence, " and it classifies such
parcels as residential property. 2 Div. of Prop. Taxation,
Dep't of Local Affairs, Assessor's ...