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Supervisor of Assessments of Montgomery County v. Lane

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

April 2, 2015

SUPERVISOR OF ASSESSMENTS OF MONTGOMERY
v.
ANN LANE

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Joseph A. Dugan, Jr., Judge.

Argued by: Jeffrey G. Comen (Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD, for Appellant.

Argued by: Rand L. Gelber (Jeffrey A. Gelber on the brief) all of Rockville, MD, for Appellee.

Hotten, Leahy, Eyler, James R. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

OPINION

Page 953

[222 Md.App. 109] James R. Eyler, J.

On December 28, 2010, Ann Lane, appellee, was notified by the Supervisor of Assessments of Montgomery County, appellant, that her residence, a condominium in Chevy Chase, Maryland, was assessed at a value of $2,130,000. The assessment notice stated that the valuation was " effective January 1, 2011," the " date of finality." Appellee pursued administrative appeals to and including the Maryland Tax Court. Following a hearing, the Tax Court reduced the assessment of appellee's condominium to $2,075,000.

Unhappy with the amount of the reduction, appellee filed a petition for judicial review in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. The circuit court held that the Tax Court committed an error of law in considering sales of property that occurred after January 1, 2011. The court also concluded that the Tax Court's decision was arbitrary and capricious because the assessed value of appellee's condominium was significantly higher than similar condominiums in the same building. The court ordered a remand of the matter to the Tax Court for reconsideration and reduction

Page 954

of the assessment. This appeal followed.

Appellant presents the following questions for our review:

I. Does substantial evidence in the record support the Tax Court's use of subsequent sales where all such sales occurred in the building where Mrs. Lane's residence is located, all were identical to Mrs. Lane's residence in terms of age and condition, and all involved contracts of sale consummated relatively close to the date of finality?
II. Was it legally correct for the Tax Court to admit into evidence and consider comparable property sales recorded after the January 1, 2011, date of finality in order to value appellee's condominium as of that date?

[222 Md.App. 110] For the reasons which follow, we reverse the decision of the circuit court and affirm the decision of the Tax Court.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Appellee owns and occupies a condominium (" unit 1003" ) on the tenth floor of the seventeen-story Parc Somerset building in the Somerset House development located in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The development consists of three similar buildings. Parc Somerset is the newest and most desirable of the three. On December 28, 2011, appellant notified appellee that her condominium had been assessed at $2,130,000, effective January 1, 2011, an increase of approximately 11% over the prior assessment of $1,920,000.

Appellee, along with the owners of nine other condominium units in the Somerset House development, administratively appealed their assessments to the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board for Montgomery County (the Appeals Board). The Appeals Board consolidated the appeals. Two of the units on appeal were 703 and 803, located on the west side of Parc Somerset, the building in which appellee's condominium is located. Units 703 (seventh floor) and 803 (eighth floor) are directly below appellee's unit. Units located directly above and below each other from the first floor to the top floor are known as a " stack." Units with numbers ending in " 03" are in the " 03 stack." Units in the 03 stack, located on floors 1 through 12, are the same size (2,498 square feet) and have the same floor configuration. The Appeals Board refused to consider sales subsequent to January 1, 2011. It lowered the assessment on unit 803 to $1,840,000 and the assessment on unit 703 to $1,830,000. The initial assessed value is unclear. The Appeals Board did not lower the assessment on appellee's unit 1003, stating only that " floor premium should be higher than lower comparable units." Appellee appealed to the Tax Court.

Appellee introduced an affidavit from Zelda Heller, a realtor who coincidentally lives in Parc Somerset, who averred that when the building was constructed, the developer attached a [222 Md.App. 111] premium of $10,000 per higher floor to the sales prices. She ...


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