of Assessment Appeals Case No. 68822
Announced June 14, 2018 Ryley Carlock & Applewhite, F.
Brittin Clayton III, Denver, Colorado, for
Jeffrey Huntley, County Attorney, Franklin Celico, Assistant
County Attorney, Breckenridge, Colorado, for
Respondent-Appellee Board of County Commissioners
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Evan P. Brennan,
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
Respondent-Appellee Board of Assessment Appeals
ORDER REVERSED AND CASE REMANDED WITH
1 Petitioners, Marc Hogan and Marilyn Hogan (the Hogans),
appeal the order of the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA)
denying their request to reclassify a parcel of their land as
residential for property tax purposes. We reverse the
BAA's order and remand the case for further proceedings.
2 The Hogans own three connected and contiguous parcels of
land in Summit County, Colorado. They purchased the first
parcel (Lot 1) in 1983 and built a home on it. They purchased
an adjoining parcel (Lot 2) in 1988 and subsequently built a
deck extending from their home across the boundary line onto
Lot 2. In 1995, the Hogans acquired a third adjoining parcel
(Lot 3). Lot 3 is located in a subdivision and has an
underground sewer line and an unpaved driveway installed by
the original developer of the subdivision, but otherwise
remains undeveloped. The three parcels form an "L"
shape, with the Hogans' home on Lot 1 at the top and Lot
3 at the bottom.
3 The Summit County Assessor classified both Lot 2 and Lot 3
as vacant land. The Hogans requested the two parcels be
reclassified as residential land. The County Assessor agreed
that Lot 2 qualified as residential land but denied the
request to reclassify Lot 3 as residential, determining it to
be vacant land for purposes of taxation.
4 The Hogans appealed the County Assessor's decision to
the Board of County Commissioners of Summit County (County),
which upheld the County Assessor's classification. The
Hogans appealed that determination to the BAA. After a de
novo hearing, the BAA upheld the County's classification
of Lot 3 as vacant land, relying primarily on the testimony
of the County Assessor.
5 This appeal followed.
6 The Hogans challenge the BAA's order regarding Lot 3.
They contend that all three parcels qualify for residential
classification under section 39-1-102(14.4)(a), C.R.S. 2017,
"Residential 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
7 The Hogans assert that the BAA erred in determining that
Lot 3 was not "used as a unit in conjunction with the
residential improvements." We conclude that the BAA
based its ruling on an erroneous interpretation of
"residential land." Consequently, we reverse the
BAA's order and remand the case for redetermination under
the proper interpretation of "residential land."
Standard of Review
8 Because the BAA's property classification involves
mixed questions of law and fact, we will uphold it on appeal
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.
9 We consult and defer to the implementing agency's
determinations, including those of the Property Tax
Administrator (PTA) and the BAA, if they accord with
statutory provisions. Boulder Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs v.
HealthSouth Corp., 246 P.3d 948, 951 (Colo. 2011).
10 Although we take into account the agency's
determination, interpretation of statutes is a question of
law that we review de novo. Id. Thus, "[w]hile
we give deference to an administrative agency's
interpretation of a statute, we are not bound by a decision
that misapplies or misconstrues the law." Fifield v.
Pitkin Cty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2012 COA 197,
¶ 6 (quoting Jet Black, LLC v. Routt Cty.
Bd. of Cty. Comm'rs, 165 P.3d 744, 748
(Colo.App. 2006)). Moreover, a reviewing court may set aside
a BAA decision if it "reflects a failure to abide by the
statutory scheme for calculating property tax
assessments." Id. (quoting Bd. of
Assessment Appeals v. E.E. Sonnenberg & Sons,
Inc., 797 P.2d 27, 34 (Colo. 1990)).
11 When interpreting a statute, "[o]ur primary objective
is to effectuate the intent of the General Assembly by
looking to the plain meaning of the language used, considered
within the context of the statute as a whole."
Id. at ...