Legal Precendent

The attorneys of Cronin, Cronin, Harris & O’Brien, P.C. strive to seek equity and fairness in the valuation of real property. The following recent legal successes have set precedent within the real property tax realm:

In the Matter of Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. Assessor of the Town of Queensbury, 129 A.D.3d 1427 (3rd Dept. 2015)
In a hotly contested matter, the Appellate Division, 3rd Department, affirmed Ms. O’Brien’s argument that in valuing big-box stores, “2nd generation” leases could be relied upon as market rental income in an income capitalization approach to value.

In the Matter of 194 Main, Inc. v. Board of Assessors et al., 91 A.D.3d 876 (2nd Dept. 2012)
In a matter successfully pursued by Ms. O’Brien, the Appellate Division, 2nd Department, affirmed the lower court’s ruling that a vacant building in a residential property zone should be reclassified from Class 4 Commercial to Class 1 residential, because “the valuation of property is determined by its state as of the taxable status date and may not be assessed on the basis of some future contemplated use.”

In the Matter of VGR Associates, LLC v. Assessor, Board of Assessment Review of Town of New Windsor, et al., 51 A.D.3d 678 (2nd Dept. 2008)
In a victory for Ms. Harris, the Appellate Division affirmed that the respondent should not have included tenant improvements in their calculation of economic rent. “Improvements made by the tenant are outside rental payments to the landlord and therefore do not contribute to the income the property is able to produce.”

In the Matter of Apollo Real Estate Advisors, L.P. v. Board of Assessors, et al., 44 A.D.3d 1036 (2nd Dept. 2007)
In another victory for Ms. Harris, the Appellate Division confirmed the lower court’s decision that the respondents failed to show “both a reasonable excuse for the default and a meritorious defense,” both of which are required to vacate a default judgment. Consequently, the petitioner’s motion for relief was granted.

In the Matter of Colonie Plaza, Inc. v. Assessor of the Town of Colonie et al., 15 A.D.3d 830 (3rd Dept., 2005)
In another case won by Ms. Harris, the 3rd Department reversed the lower court’s decision that the moratorium pursuant to RPTL 727 could not be imposed “where a municipality-wide revaluation or update was performed on all real property in the municipality,” even though a settlement had been reached to reduce the subject property’s assessment in 1999.

Vantage Petroleum, Bay Isle Oil Co., Inc. v. Board of Assessment Review of the Town of Babylon, 61 N.Y.2d 695 (1984)
Ms. Harris won her case before the Court of Appeals, because “the Legislature’s failure to relieve petitioners in proceedings pursuant to article 7 of the Real Property Tax Law of the duty to give Suffolk County school districts notice of tax certiorari proceedings pursuant to section 708 of that law, was merely an oversight and does not indicate a legislative intent to allow intervention by Suffolk County school districts in tax certiorari proceedings despite the fact that chapter 837 of the laws of 1980 ended the potential tax refund liability of those school districts.”

In the Matter of Ames Dep’t. Stores v. Assessor of the Town of Concord, 102 A.D.2d 9 (4th Dept. 1984)
Ms. Harris won her case  before the Appellate Division, 4th Department, causing a reversal of the lower court’s ruling that “a lessee of commercial real property, responsible only for a pro rata share of taxes on a premises assessed as a whole unit, is an ‘aggrieved person’” under the Real Property Tax Law.

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