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Grundy County National Bank v. State of Illinois

July 09, 1998

GRUNDY COUNTY NATIONAL BANK, AS TRUSTEE UNDER AN AGREEMENT DATED THE 26TH DAY OF JUNE, 1989, KNOWN AS LAND TRUST #1163, KEITH ROSELAND, JOHN W. HYNDS AND DONALD N. CLAUSEN TRUST, HENRIETTA U. CLAUSEN. TRUSTEE, BENEFICIAL OWNERS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS
v.
STATE OF ILLINOIS PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD AND GRUNDY COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Homer

IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS THIRD DISTRICT A.D., 1998

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Grundy County, Illinois

No. 94--TX--10

The Honorable James L. Brusatte, judge Presiding

Plaintiffs, the trustee bank and beneficiaries in a land trust, appealed a decision of the Grundy County Board of Review to reassess plaintiffs' property from farmland to residential property. The Property Tax Appeal Board, and later the circuit court, upheld the reassessment and the plaintiffs have appealed to this court. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

FACTS

Grundy County National Bank, as trustee, was the record owner of real property in Grundy County consisting of 18.896 acres. The property had been used for the production of corn and soybeans. The trustee purchased the property for development into a residential subdivision.

The trustee submitted a preliminary plat of the subdivision to the Village of Coal City. The plat divided the property into 54 lots and was approved by the village.

In August 1989, a final plat with 11 lots and containing 4.381 acres was recorded. In August 1990, plaintiffs recorded a second final plat with an additional 12 lots containing 3.842 acres. In March 1991, after a third final plat with 9 lots containing 3.307 acres was recorded, there remained 22 lots containing 7.366 acres which had not been finally platted.

For the 1991 tax year, the Grundy County supervisor of assessments increased the assessment on 22 of the vacant lots contained within the three final plats after reclassifying those lots from farmland to residential. Plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Grundy County Board of Review (Board), contending that these lots were entitled to a preferential assessment pursuant to section 20g-4 of the Revenue Act of 1939 because at the time of the preliminary platting the land was vacant and in excess of 10 acres, or land used for farming or agricultural purposes. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 120, par. 501g-4.

When the Board rejected plaintiffs' argument, plaintiffs appealed to the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB). The PTAB ruled that section 20g-4 of the Revenue Act did not apply to plaintiffs' property because the section requires in excess of 10 acres to be platted at a single time and recorded under the Plat Act. The PTAB did allow plaintiffs relief for the 9 lots contained in the third final plat because that plat was filed after the commencement of the 1991 assessment year.

Plaintiffs filed for review in the circuit court which upheld the decision of the PTAB, and they now seek relief in this court. At issue is the Board's reassessment of 13 vacant lots contained within the first two final plats. We must decide whether these 13 lots meet the criteria under section 20g-4 of the Revenue Act of 1939 for preferential property tax assessment.

ANALYSIS Plaintiffs contend that their lots were subject to valuation as subdivided agricultural land in accordance with section 20g-4 of the Revenue Act of 1939 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, Ch. 120, par. 501g-4). They argue that the PTAB erred in its interpretation of section 20g-4.

Courts must give substantial weight and deference to the interpretation placed on a statute by the agency charged with its administration and enforcement. Central City Education Association v. Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, 149 Ill. 2d 496, 599 N.E.2d 892 (1992). Where an agency's decision involves the interpretation of a statutory provision, the meaning of which is subject to debate, courts will rely on the agency's interpretation of the statute's meaning. Board of Education of Plainfield v. Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, 143 Ill. App. 3d 898, 493 N.E.2d 1130 (1986). However, the PTAB's interpretation of a statute is not ...


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