of Assessment Appeals Case Nos. 69061 & 69723.
Carlock & Applewhite, F. Brittin Clayton III, Denver,
Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellant.
V. Rogers, County Attorney, Kathleen Lyon, Assistant County
Attorney, Durango, Colorado, for Respondents-Appellees.
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, John A. Lizza, First
Assistant Attorney General, Katie A. Allison, Second
Assistant Attorney General, Emmy A. Langley, Assistant
Solicitor General, Denver, Colorado, for Appellee.
Twilight Ridge, LLC appeals from two orders of the Colorado
Board of Assessment
Appeals (BAA) denying its petitions challenging the
classification of its property for the 2014-15 and 2016 tax
years. We affirm.
Elmo and Patricia Robinson are the sole members of Twilight,
a Colorado limited liability company. In 2013 Twilight
purchased two contiguous platted parcels of land in La Plata
County, Colorado. The first parcel has a home on it
(Residential Parcel). The second parcel is a 0.763-acre
buildable but undeveloped lot (Subject Parcel).
The La Plata County Assessor classified the Subject Parcel as
vacant land, which is taxed at a higher rate than residential
property. Twilight appealed the decision for the 2014-15 tax
years to the Board of County Commissioners of La Plata
County, and it appealed the decision for the 2016 tax year to
the Board of Equalization of La Plata County, arguing to both
bodies (collectively, the County) that the Subject Parcel
should be reclassified as residential land. Both Boards
upheld the County Assessor's classification.
Twilight appealed to the BAA, which consolidated the two
proceedings for a de novo hearing. At the hearing, Elmo
Robinson testified that he and his wife bought the two
parcels together, intending that the Subject Parcel would
give them privacy and serve as a buffer to help ensure that
their views to the north would not be impeded by a house
built on the Subject Parcel. He also said that the Subject
Parcel was to be a place where his grandchildren could play
when they came to visit, as the Residential Parcel had little
flat land on which the children could safely play. Although
he was currently offering only the Residential Parcel for
sale, Robinson intended to sell both parcels together.
Twilight also offered testimony by Curt Settle, Deputy
Director of the Colorado Division of Property Taxation, who
was designated by the Property Tax Administrator (PTA) to
testify regarding the Division's policies as embodied in
the PTA's Assessors' Reference Library (ARL). Settle
testified about how assessors determine the classification of
property for tax purposes, the standards applicable to such
determinations as set forth in the ARL, and the types of use
that can qualify for residential classification.
The County provided testimony from its appraiser, Diana Cole,
who had visited Twilight's parcels after Twilight
requested reclassification and had seen no activity or
evidence of use on the Subject Parcel when she visited. Her
testimony was followed by that of Craig Larson, the La Plata
County Assessor, who had also visited the Twilight parcels.
Larson opined that using the Subject Parcel as a place for
children to play and to protect a view were simply
"incidental" uses and were not the sort of
"integral" use of the Subject Parcel in conjunction
with the residential improvements that would warrant
classifying the Subject Parcel as residential.
The BAA upheld the County's classification of the Subject
Parcel as vacant land. Crediting Cole's and Larson's
testimony over Robinson's, it concluded that Twilight
did not meet its burden of proving that the [Subject Parcel]
meets the definition of "residential land" which is
defined in Section 39-1-102(14.4), C.R.S. as "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."
(Emphasis added in BAA's ...