The defendants appeal and the plaintiff cross appeals from the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of the plaintiff on its complaint seeking a reduction in the amount of the assessment and tax on a parcel of real property. On appeal, the defendants claim that the trial court improperly (1) ordered a reduction in the assessed fair market value of the condominium units, (2) admitted into evidence the plaintiffs expert witness' appraisal, and (3) found the subject parcel overvalued. On cross appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court improperly (1) found that the tax on the subject parcel was not manifestly excessive, (2) failed to find that the assessor failed to apportion the value of the land among the respective condominium units, and (3) found that the board and the assessor did not predetermine the assessed land value. We affirm the judgment of the trial court in part and reverse the judgment in part.
The trial court found the following facts. The plaintiff, Tyler's Cove Association, Inc., consists of thirty-eight owners of individual cottages situated on approximately 16.5 acres of land located in the town of Middlebury.
Sometime prior to October 1, 1992, the defendant Edmund Corapinski, the tax assessor of the town of Middlebury, undertook the process of revaluation of all real property in the town. The defendant town of Middlebury hired a revaluation company, Lesher-Glendinning Municipal Services, Inc., whose president is John J. Valente, to assist with the revaluation. Corapinski and Valente used the comparable sales method approach to establish the fair market value of all real estate in Middlebury, including the thirty-eight condominium units at Tyler's Cove. In valuing the land, they used the residual value approach method, which involved subtracting the cost of the building from the fair market value; the residual value was the "condominium interest value," which included the land value. During the Tyler's Cove revaluation, Corapinski and Valente used field cards to gather information and to determine the fair market value. The field cards included a section for the building value and also a section for the land value, which Corapinski claimed was used solely for informational purposes. The resulting tax assessment figures were placed on the grand list as the final step in the revaluation process.
The total fair market value on the October 1, 1992 grand list, of the thirty-eight Tyler's Cove units and the 16.5 acres on which they are located, was $4,545,600. The plaintiff appealed the October 1, 1992 grand list to the board of tax review and the board reduced the value of each unit at Tyler's Cove by $5000. For the subsequent grand lists of October 1, 1993 and 1994, the town assessed taxes on Tyler's Cove units in accordance with the board's modified value. The plaintiff appealed from both grand lists, but the board refused to make any further reductions. The October 1, 1993 and October 1, 1994 grand lists are the subject of this appeal.
The trial court found for the plaintiff on counts two and four, the § 12-117a counts, and for the defendants on counts one and three, the § 12-119 counts. This appeal and cross appeal followed.
The defendants first claim that the trial court improperly ordered a reduction in the fair market value of the Tyler's Cove units. We agree.
In an appeal from a board of tax review pursuant to § 12-117a, "[t]he function of the trial court is to determine the true and actual value of the plaintiff's property. Dickau v. Glastonbury, 156 Conn. 437, 441, 444, 242 A.2d 777 ; Burritt Mutual Savings Bank v. New Britain, 146 Conn. 669, 673, 154 A.2d 608 .... Executive Square Ltd. Partnership v. Board of Tax Review, 11 Conn.App. 566, 570, 528 A.2d 409 (1987)." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Heather Lyn Ltd. Partnership v. Griswold, 38 Conn.App. 158, 164, 659 A.2d 740 (1995). The law contemplates, however, "that a wide discretion is to be accorded to assessors, and unless their action is discriminatory or so unreasonable that property is substantially overvalued and thus injustice and illegality result, their opinion and judgment should control in the determination of value for taxation
In a tax appeal, the trial court hears the case de novo and makes an independent valuation of the subject property. Id., 588. "`The conclusions reached by the trial court must stand unless they are legally or logically inconsistent with the facts found or unless they involve the application of some erroneous rule of law.'" Reynaud v. Winchester, 35 Conn.App. 269, 274, 644 A.2d 976 (1994), quoting Newbury Commons Ltd. Partnership v. Stamford, 226 Conn. 92, 100, 626 A.2d 1292 (1993).
"In an appeal ... from a board of tax review, the court performs a double function. The court must first determine whether the plaintiff has met his burden of establishing that he is, in fact, aggrieved by the action of the board. Only when the court finds that the action of the board will result in the payment of an unjust and, therefore, illegal tax, can the court proceed to exercise its broad discretionary power to grant such relief as is appropriate." Gorin's, Inc. v. Board of Tax Review, 178 Conn. 606, 608, 424 A.2d 282 (1979); Grossomanides v. Wethersfield, 33 Conn.App. 511, 515, 636 A.2d 867 (1994).
Some additional facts are necessary for the resolution of this issue on appeal. As a result of the revaluation conducted during 1991-1992, the total value of the assessment for all thirty-eight condominiums and amenities relative thereto as valued by the town on October 1, 1993, was $4,545,600.
The plaintiff's expert witness, Robert Nocera, conducted an appraisal of only the land on which the condominiums are situated. He testified that he could not find land in Middlebury that was approved for condominiums so he used comparable land approved for condominiums in other towns in the state. He further testified that he used land sales other than condominiums in Middlebury. Nocera concluded that the fair market value of the land was $660,000.
The plaintiff argues that the defendants failed to assess their real property as prescribed by General Statutes § 47-79 (a) of the Condominium Act of 1976.
In its memorandum of decision, the trial court reviewed the testimony of Corapinski, Valente, and Nocera. The trial court noted that, as a result of the town's revaluation, the assessment of the plaintiffs units increased "tremendously." The trial court also noted, however, that, a review of eight recent sales, five between 1989 and 1992 and three after 1992, confirmed that the fair market value estimated by the town on each property was less than the sales price. The trial court found that the plaintiff had sustained its burden of proof as to counts two and four of the amended complaint, which sought reduced assessments pursuant to § 12-117a. Accordingly, the trial court ordered that the fair market value of each condominium unit be reduced by $10,000 on the October 1, 1993 and October 1, 1994 grand lists.
Although the trial court concluded that the plaintiff had met its burden of proof in establishing that it was aggrieved by the action of the board, the trial court stated no basis for that conclusion. Corapinski and Valente testified that they calculated the fair market value of the units and amenities by using the comparable sales method and that they did not separately calculate the value of the land. Nocera's appraisal was the only evidence before the trial court of the value of the land. Without making any findings with regard to the value of the land, the trial court ordered that the fair market value of each unit be reduced by $10,000. This conclusion is logically inconsistent with the facts found. The trial court did not find that the assessor had overvalued
In its cross appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court improperly found that the tax on the subject parcel was not manifestly excessive under General Statutes § 12-119.
The first category in § 12-119 "embraces situations where a tax has been laid on a property not taxable in the municipality where it is situated." E. Ingraham Co. v. Bristol, 146 Conn. 403, 408, 151 A.2d 700, cert. denied, 361 U.S. 929, 80 S.Ct. 367, 4 L. Ed. 2d 352 (1959). This category is not applicable to the facts of this case and, thus, will not be addressed.
"The second category consists of claims that assessments are (a) manifestly excessive and (b) ... could not have been arrived at except by disregarding the provisions of the statutes for determining the valuation of the property. . . . E. Ingraham Co. v. Bristol, [supra, 146 Conn. 409]. Cases in this category must contain allegations beyond the mere claim that the assessor overvalued the property. [The] plaintiff ... must satisfy the trier that [a] far more exacting test has been met: either there was misfeasance or nonfeasance by the taxing authorities, or the assessment was arbitratry
The plaintiff filed an amended complaint, pursuant to § 12-119, alleging that the defendants had grossly overvalued the taxpayers' property. The record fails to reveal any claim by the plaintiff beyond the mere allegation that the assessor overvalued the land on which the Tyler's Cove condominiums are situated. Further, the plaintiffs claims of misfeasance by the assessor; see part III; are unpersuasive, and no claims of nonfeasance exist. Finally, the plaintiff's claim that the assessment was arbitrary is unsupported by the record. The trial court properly concluded that the plaintiff failed to meet its burden of proof under § 12-119.
The plaintiff's final claims on cross appeal are that the trial court improperly failed to find that the assessor failed to apportion the value of the land among the condominium units and found that the board and the assessor did not predetermine the assessed land value. We address these claims in turn.
We apply the following standard of review to both claims. "The trial court's findings are binding upon this
The plaintiff first claims that the trial court improperly failed to find that the assessor failed to apportion the value of the land among the condominium units. The plaintiff argues that the defendants were required to apportion the value of the real property and common areas as an undivided interest among the individual condominium owners. See General Statutes § 47-79. As proof, the plaintiff notes the different values on the field cards for lakefront and nonlakefront units, as indicated under "land value" on the assessor's field cards. The defendants argue that the "land value" calculation was solely for informational purposes and, thus, they did not violate § 47-79. Our review of the record leads us to conclude that the trial court's factual findings are not clearly erroneous.
The plaintiff finally claims that the trial court improperly found that the board and the assessor did not predetermine the assessed land value. The plaintiff argues that the board assigned values to all property in Middlebury
On the defendants' appeal, the judgment ordering the reduction of the fair market value of the Tyler's Cove property is reversed and the case is remanded with direction to render judgment for the defendants.
In this opinion the other judges concurred.