Nichols v. Curry Cnty. Assessor, TC-MD 220152R

CourtOregon Tax Court
PartiesSTEVEN NICHOLS, Plaintiff, v. CURRY COUNTY ASSESSOR, Defendant.
Docket NumberTC-MD 220152R
Decision Date22 November 2022



No. TC-MD 220152R

Tax Court of Oregon, Magistrate Division, Property Tax

November 22, 2022



Plaintiff appealed a Board of Property Tax Appeals (BOPTA) Real Property Order, dated March 3, 2022, regarding Account R11181 (subject property), for the 2021-22 tax year. A trial was held remotely via WebEx on November 1, 2022. Plaintiff, Steven Nichols, appeared and testified on his own behalf. Curry County Appraiser, Lacey Young, appeared on behalf of Defendant. Curry County Assessor, Jim Kolen, testified as a witness on behalf of Defendant. Plaintiff's exhibits 1 to 14 were admitted without objection. The court sustained Plaintiff's objection to the admission of Defendant's exhibits A to E, due to improper service of process.


The subject property is a 1.1-acre lot, located on Highway 101 in Sixes, Oregon that has formerly been used both for commercial and residential purposes. (Ptf's Ex 1 at 1; Ptf's Ex 14.) At trial, Plaintiff testified that he believes he purchased the subject property in 2003 for $28,000, and that it is zoned "rural-commercial." On March 3, 2022, BOPTA mailed Plaintiff a Real Property Order sustaining Defendant's real market value (RMV) and assessed values for the 2021-22 tax year at $499,990 and $236,920, respectively. (Compl at 2.)

At trial, Plaintiff testified that years before he purchased the subject property, it was the site of an operational gas station-the Sixes gas station. Plaintiff further testified that, at some


point before purchasing the property, one of the gas station's underground storage tanks leaked, resulting in the contamination of the subject property's soil between 4.5 and 5.5 feet beneath the surface. As evidence of the contamination, Plaintiff submitted a report prepared by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) in April of 2002, which detected 2,220 parts per million (PPM) of gas and 302 PPM of diesel in soil samples taken from depths between 4.5 and 5.5 feet beneath the surface of the subject property. (Ptf's Ex 1.) In his case-in-chief, Plaintiff argued that, as a result of the contamination, the RMV of the subject property is $499,990, Defendant's tax roll value, lessened by the cost to conduct an investigation into the scope of the contamination and the costs to cure the contamination. Plaintiff estimates that these costs would result in an RMV of approximately $405,857 (rounded).

In his estimation, Plaintiff first allots $55,032 toward the cost to conduct an investigation into the scope of the contamination, because to Plaintiff's own admission, it is uncertain if the 2002 ODEQ report still accurately reflects the present condition of the property. In support of this expense amount, Plaintiff submitted a third-party cost estimate to conduct the investigation, dated October 19, 2022, provided by Rick Young Seidemann of RYS Environmental LLC. (See Ptf's Ex 11.) Second, Plaintiff testified that because the contamination is at a depth of 4.5 to 5.5 feet beneath the surface, he also factored in an expense of $34,811 (rounded) to excavate the contaminated soil. In support of this figure, Plaintiff submitted as evidence, documentation of a third-party estimate that he received via email from Rick Coleman of Koos Environmental on March 12, 2018, to conduct the excavation. (See Ptf's Ex 5 at 1.) In addition, Plaintiff estimated that replacing the contaminated soils would cost approximately $3,000. (Ptf's Ex 6.) However, Plaintiff submitted no evidence in support of how he reached this figure-a figure that he


testified to calculating himself.[1] Finally, in his testimony, Plaintiff appeared to express an intention to include what he referred to as ODEQ "oversight costs" in his estimate of the cost to cure, referencing numerous ODEQ invoices, the most recent dated April 23, 2022, with a balance due of $1,290 (rounded). (See Ptf's Ex 9; see also Ptf's Ex 10.)

Jim Kolen, Curry County Assessor, testified that the RMV of $499,990 on Defendant's tax roll, affirmed by the Board in its Real Property...

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