Bob Gladstone, Of Counsel, recently obtained a recovery package in excess of $1 million in a property tax assessment appeal case.
Our client, a 150-acre shore area country club and golf course, filed an appeal of their property assessment over three years ago. Unable to reach a favorable settlement in advance of the trial date, Bob prepared the case for trial and retained experts in the fields of real property appraisal, wetlands delineation, environmental engineering and title issues..
Although the owners had struggled to maintain the country club and golf course in good repair, the surrounding neighborhood had deteriorated significantly over the years, making upkeep difficult. Additional factors that warranted consideration included the fact that the property was burdened by considerable wetlands and watercourses that restricted potential development, and the fact that there was only one realistic point of access to the property, which appeared to be limited to use for country club access purposes.
The municipality took the position that the property was valuable as a potential site for development of single-family homes or age restricted housing. It contended that the access restrictions were unenforceable and that the proximity of the various streams and wetlands actually enhanced the value of the property. It believed that the deteriorated condition of the neighborhood would be enhanced and renewed, were the property to be developed.
Bob was able to demonstrate that the likelihood of residential development was remote and speculative, and that the highest and best use of the property was to remain as a country club. Further, golfing facilities throughout the nation have struggled economically over the last several years.
Negotiations were pursued in earnest on the morning scheduled for trial, and resulted in a reduction of more than half the original property tax assessment. Past and future assessment reductions combined for a tax recovery package of more than $1 million for our client.