Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Budney v. Town of New Hartford

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Litchfield, Litchfield

May 25, 2016

Eric Budney
v.
Town of New Hartford Opinion No. 133781

          Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): John W. Pickard, J.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          John W. Pickard, J.

         This is a real estate tax appeal taken pursuant to General Statutes § 12-117a from the assessment of property on the New Hartford Grand List of October 1, 2013. The plaintiff, Eric Budney, filed a timely appeal of his assessment to the Board of Assessment Appeals of the Town of New Hartford which made no changes in the assessment. This appeal followed. The trial took place on May 4, 2016. The attorneys accompanied me on a site visit on May 20, 2016.

         I. Facts

         The plaintiff owns real property and improvements at 634 West Hill Road, New Hartford, Connecticut (" the property"). The property consists of roughly .24 acres of land on the north side of West Hill Road and the south shore of West Hill Pond. The property has about 50 feet of road frontage and about 54 feet of water frontage. There are two residential buildings and a storage shed on the property. The building nearest to the water is 808 square feet in size and is known as " the cottage." It was constructed in 1918. It consists of a large living room with a stone fire place, two small bedrooms, and a small kitchen. The shower-stall bath is attached to the rear of the dwelling. There is a porch with a roof facing the water. This three-season cottage is unheated and uninsulated. The cottage is placed on piers which have shifted over the years. The floors are noticeably uneven. It is in fair to poor condition, even for a summer cottage. Its condition could be improved but the age and condition of the cottage would not justify a major renovation.

         The second building is known as " the cabin." The living area is only 450 square feet in size. It was built in 1971 and is essentially an open room, with a kitchen and small shower-stall bath on the west side. It has gas fired hot air heat and a wood stove and is used year-round as a dwelling. There is a 291-square-foot deck affording a partial view of the water. This building is unattractive, small and in need of renovation. But, it is functional for one or two people.

         Both dwellings are serviced by an on-site well and septic system. There are no apparent problems with these systems but their long-term health must be questioned in light of the extremely small size of the lot and the terrain which slopes quite steeply from the road to the pond. It is clear that heavy rain storms result in a large quantity of surface water flowing at and around the buildings. Neighboring buildings on both sides of the lot are very close. This creates a lack of privacy which is quite apparent. Neither building has a basement.

         The waterfront of the property is its best feature. It provides a magnificent view of the entire length of the pond to the north. There is a very attractive stone retaining wall along the waterfront with stone steps leading to the water.

         The property is located in an R-4 Residential zone which requires a minimum lot area of 4 acres and minimum road frontage of 200 feet. Therefore, the property is severely undersized for even one residence. The property and improvements pre-exist zoning and continue as pre-existing non-conformities. It appears that the buildings could be rebuilt on their current footprints but could not be expanded.

         The town's 100% valuation of the property for tax assessment purposes is $426, 900. The plaintiff's expert appraiser, Scott Reckert, opined that the 100% value of the property on October 1, 2013 was $280, 000. The town's expert appraiser, Bruce Hunter, opined that the 100% value of the property on the same date was $450, 000.

         II. Standard of Judicial Review

         The plaintiff's claim is based upon C.G.S. § 12-117a. " In § 12-117a tax appeals, the trial court tries the matter de novo and the ultimate question is the ascertainment of the true and actual value of the [taxpayer's] property . . . At the de novo proceeding, the taxpayer bears the burden of establishing that the assessor over-assessed its property . . . Once the taxpayer has demonstrated aggrievement by proving that its property was over-assessed, the trial court [will] then undertake a further inquiry to determine the amount of the reassessment that would be just . . . The trier of fact must arrive at [its] own conclusions as to the value of [the taxpayer's property] by weighing the opinion of the appraisers, the claims of the parties in light of all the circumstances in evidence bearing on value, and [its] own general knowledge of the elements going to establish value . . ." (Citations omitted.) Cadlerock Properties Joint Venture, L.P. v. Ashford, 98 Conn.App. 556, 560 (2006).

         " If the trial court finds that the taxpayer has failed to meet his burden because, for example, the court finds unpersuasive the method of valuation espoused by the taxpayer's appraiser, the trial court may render judgment for the town on that basis alone." Ireland v. Wethersfield, 242 Conn. 550, 557-58 (1997). " If, however, the trial court finds that the taxpayer, in light of the persuasiveness, for example, of his appraiser, has demonstrated an overvaluation of his property, the trial court must then undertake a further inquiry to determine the amount of the reassessment that would be just." Id. at 558.

         " No one method of valuation is controlling . . . and the [court] may select the one most appropriate in the case before [it]." (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Abington, LLC v. Avon, 101 Conn.App. 709, 715 (2007). " [T]he court's ultimate goal is to establish the true and actual value of the subject property and . . . it is a question of fact for the trier as to whether the method used for valuation appears in reason and logic to accomplish a just result . . . [No] particular method must be utilized [and valuation principles shall not]serve to limit the court's discretion to choose the method that it ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.