Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Twenty-First Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois No. 97--MR**12 No. 97--MR**43 Honorable Fred S. Carr Judge Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Koehler
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
The plaintiff in these property tax assessment reclassification actions, Kankakee County Board of Review (Board of Review), appeals the Kankakee County circuit court's decision affirming the defendant Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board's (PTAB) Conclusion that the three-acre portions of defendant Kolesars' five-acre property and defendant Stuparitz's five-acre property were entitled to a farmland classification and assessment for tax purposes. On appeal we must decide whether the PTAB erred in concluding that the three acres at issue were used solely for the growing and harvesting of crops. Because we conclude the PTAB did not err, we affirm.
No. 3-98-0391 Gary and Judy Kolesar
In 1988, defendants Gary and Judy Kolesar purchased a five-acre parcel of property. The Kolesars' home sits on approximately two acres of the property, and they lease the remaining three acres to a third party for the sole purpose of growing and harvesting crops. These three acres have been used as farmland for many years, at least since the Kolesars purchased the property in 1988.
Until 1994, the five-acre tract was classified and assessed as partially residential and partially farmland. In 1994, the Manteno Township assessor determined that the primary use of the property was residential, reclassified it as entirely residential, and assessed it accordingly. The Board of Review upheld the assessment.
The Kolesars appealed to the PTAB, requesting a farmland classification for the three acres used solely for farming purposes. The PTAB determined that the three-acre farmed portion was entitled to a farmland classification and assessment because the three acres were used solely for farming and had been since 1988.
No. 3-98-0392 Edward Stuparitz
In 1992, a parcel of property consisting of 5.4 acres was deeded to the Mary H. Stuparitz Living Trust. Defendant Edward Stuparitz and Mary Stuparitz are the trustees of the property. A house, garage, barn, corn crib, machine shed, milk shed, small orchard, and yard sit on the property. Although the house is habitable, no one lives on the property. Mr. Stuparitz, who lives in nearby Oak Lawn, visits the property for a day at a time about 40 to 50 times a year.
Stuparitz leases approximately three acres of the property to P & H Johnson, which grows crops such as soybeans and corn on these three acres. Johnson has farmed these three acres since 1975. Johnson also farms adjoining land which has no physical separation from Stuparitz's farmed acreage.
Until 1994, the Stuparitz property was assessed as farmland. In 1994, the Momence Township assessor determined that its primary use was residential, reclassified the entire 5.4 acres as residential, and assessed it accordingly. The Board of Review upheld the assessment.
Stuparitz appealed his 1994 assessment to the PTAB. The PTAB concluded that the three-acre farmed portion of Stuparitz's property was used solely for growing and harvesting crops and had been since 1975, and, thus, was entitled to a farmland classification and assessment.
In its decision ordering the Board of Review to compute and certify a farmland assessment for the Kolesars' and Stuparitz's properties, the PTAB acknowledged the county's reliance on the Department of Revenue's "Guideline on Primary Use Provisions of ...