Lake County Bd. of Review v. Property Tax Appeal Bd.

Decision Date28 December 1989
Docket NumberNo. 2-89-0334,2-89-0334
Citation548 N.E.2d 1129,192 Ill.App.3d 605,139 Ill.Dec. 573
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Parties, 139 Ill.Dec. 573 LAKE COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW, Plaintiff-Appellant v. The PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD, Briarwood Country Club, Glen Flora Country Club, Heatherridge Development Company, Hillcrest Country Club, Indian Valley Country Club, and Ravinia Green Country Club, Defendants-Appellees (Deerfield School District 109, Bannockburn School District 106, Highland Park School District 108, Deerfield School District 113, Kildeer Community Consolidated School District 96, Lake Bluff School District 65, Lake Forest School District 67, Lotus School District 10, Diamond Lake School District 76, Lincolnshire Prairie View School District 103 and Oak Grove School District 68, Intervenors).

Fred L. Foreman, Lake County State's Atty., Helen S. Rozenberg (argued), Chief, Civil Div., Ernest Y. Ling, State's Atty. of Lake County, Waukegan.

Neil F. Hartigan, Atty. Gen., Jennifer A. Keller (argued), Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert J. Ruiz, Sol. Gen., Chicago, for State of Ill. Property Tax.

James T. Magee, James T. Magee & Associates, Round Lake, for Ravinia Green Country Club, Glen Flora Country Club, Heatherridge Development Co., Hillcrest Country Club, Indian Valley Country Club.

Robert J. Masini, Diver, Bollman, Grach & Quade, Waukegan, for Briarwood County Club.

Paul S. Chervin (argued), Jeffrey B. Wise, Linda E. Spring, Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, Waukegan, for Heatherridge Development Co.

Presiding Justice UNVERZAGT delivered the opinion of the court:

This appeal arises from an administrative review proceeding. The six defendant golf courses filed applications with the Lake County supervisor of assessments for open-space valuation pursuant to section 20g-1 of the Revenue Act of 1939, as amended (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 120, par. 501g-1) for the 1986 tax year. The supervisor of assessments concluded that as of January 1, 1986, the open-space fair cash value of the subject golf courses was $6,000 per acre. This becomes an assessed valuation of $2,000 per acre.

The golf courses then filed assessed valuation complaints with the Lake County Board of Review (Board of Review) alleging that the appropriate fair cash value per acre was $1,500, which becomes an assessed valuation of $500 per acre. The Board of Review rejected the proposed $500-per-acre assessed valuation and concurred with the values set by the supervisor of assessments, thus affirming the open-space assessed value of $2,000 per acre.

Each of the golf courses then filed an appeal with the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB), which conducted an evidentiary hearing on the six consolidated appeals. The PTAB reversed the decision of the Board of Review and found the open-space assessed value of the golf courses was $500 per acre.

The Board of Review filed its complaint for administrative review seeking reversal of the PTAB's open-space valuation. Eleven school districts were allowed to intervene on behalf of the Board of Review.

During the course of administrative review, the circuit court remanded the cause back to the PTAB for clarification of an apparent conflict between its open-space valuation methodology in the instant cause (sales of "wetlands and marshes in Lake County offer a better indication of open space value as described in * * * Section 20g-1 of the Revenue Act of 1939") and a prior open-space valuation of Glen Flora County Club (PTAB Docket No. 84-2329-C-1) ("Ideally, the best comparable sales to use in determining the fair cash value of the subject [property] would be recent open space purchases of properties most similar to the subject, such as golf courses"). The PTAB reaffirmed its decision in the instant cause, noting its reasoning in the Glen Flora County Club case "may have been flawed." The circuit court subsequently issued its order finding the PTAB decision not to be against the manifest weight of the evidence and finding that the PTAB had correctly interpreted section 20g-1 as mandating a uniform valuation of open space, regardless of its actual use.

Accordingly, judgment was granted for the golf courses against the Board of Review and the intervening school districts. The Board of Review timely filed its notice of appeal and judgment was stayed pending appeal. The intervening school districts' appeal was dismissed by this court as untimely.

The Board of Review raises these issues: (1) whether the standard of review of the PTAB's valuation of the subject properties is deferential or independent; (2) whether section 20g-1 of the Revenue Act of 1939 mandates the assessment of qualified open-space property based on the property's actual use; and (3) whether the PTAB'S interpretation of section 20g-1 violates the uniformity of taxation clause of the Illinois Constitution.

The evidence upon which the PTAB based its open-space valuation of the subject golf courses is essentially condensed as follows.

The golf courses submitted an appraisal report prepared for purposes of the hearing by William D. New and William L. Rehm of the Lake County Appraisal Service. New and Rehm estimated the open-space value of the courses to be $1,500 per acre, for an open-space assessed value of $500 per acre. New testified at the hearing as to the methodology employed in arriving at the open-space value of the courses.

He examined sales of seven parcels of property that he believed would satisfy the definition of open-space property. The first parcel was a 37.29-acre site located on the west side of the Des Plaines River in the floodplain. The parcel, which adjoined other forest preserve property used as a nature reservation, was purchased by the Lake County forest preserve district for $1,935 per acre.

The second parcel of 43.8 acres was located north of Rollins Road on the south side of Fourth Lake. Like the first parcel, it consisted largely of floodplain; a creek runs through the land. It sold to David P. Raymond for $1,027 per acre.

The third parcel of property was an estimated 13-acre peninsula in Channel Lake which was originally intended for park use. The peninsula was largely floodplain and under water. It was sold by Lake County, as trustee, to Alfonse and Gudrun Gnilka for $385 per acre.

The fourth parcel was a two-acre site on Crabapple Island in the Chain of Lakes. It was acquired by the General Robert E. Wood Memorial Nature Preserve for use as a nature preserve at a price of $330 per acre. The land was swampy and located in the floodplain. Although the size of the parcel would disqualify it from classification as open-space property, New felt its sale was relevant because the property was put to an open-space use.

The fifth parcel consisted of 40 acres. It was located on Grand Avenue in Fox Lake. Although the property consists largely of floodplain, the purchaser, Old Orchard Bank & Trust Company under trust No. 86-26, was developing a commercial marina on the Grand Avenue frontage. The property sold for $2,700 per acre. The high per-acre value of the property was attributed to this commercial influence.

The sixth parcel was located in Antioch, Illinois, on the Illinois-Wisconsin border. It consisted of 39.74 acres and sold for $1,439 per acre to Kenneth and Mary Ann Chimielewski. It was located for the most part in the floodplain and is used as a Christmas tree farm.

The seventh parcel was an 11.77-acre site east of Sunset Avenue in Antioch. The property was lowland situated in the floodplain, largely was swamp and adjoined a Channel Lake. It sold for $2,209 per acre to William and Kimberly Chase.

The average price of the seven properties was $1,432 per acre. New accorded the greatest weight to the sales of the first two parcels because he considered them to be prime examples of open-space land and they were recent sales. He gave the least consideration to the sale of the fifth parcel because its value reflected the commercial development on the property.

In addition to considering the above sales, New also considered the assessed value of various parcels of property used for open-space purposes in 11 townships. The average market value of the properties was $1,564 per acre, with an average assessed value of $521 per acre.

Based upon the sales and assessment data collected and studied, New arrived at an estimated fair cash value for typical open-space property in Lake County of $1,500 per acre. On the basis of the estimated fair cash value, New determined the appropriate assessed value of the typical open-space property in Lake County to be $500 per acre. In arriving at these figures, New considered no agricultural or residential properties, nor did he consider commercial sales of developmental property.

In addition to New and Rehm's appraisal and New's testimony, the golf courses also introduced into evidence an appraisal of open-space properties in Lake County for 1984 and 1985 prepared by John A. Magee of John A. Magee & Associates. Magee did not testify at the hearing, however. Magee's appraisal concluded the express language of section 20g-1 requires that open-space property must have the same value, regardless of the use to which it is actually put. Based on the data he collected, which was more extensive but not as detailed as that of New and Rehm, he determined the fair cash value of open-space property in Lake County was $1,500 per acre. He also determined the assessed value of open-space property in Lake County was $500 per acre.

The following evidence was adduced by the Board of Review. Wayne Wasylko, a supervisor in the tax extension and redemption division of the Lake County clerk's office, explained how the division purchases land parcels in tax sales, offers them for sale and sells them in a sealed bidding process.

Gordon Washburn, the Warren Township assessor, testified next on behalf of the Board of Review concerning the sample assessment for lake-bottom property in Warren...

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