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Mill Creek Development, Inc. v. Property Tax Appeal Board of the State of Illinois

October 29, 2003

MILL CREEK DEVELOPMENT, INC., PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
PROPERTY TAX APPEAL BOARD OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND WILL COUNTY BOARD OF REVIEW, RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES.



Petition for Review of the Order of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. No. 00-01148.001-R-3

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Lytton

UNPUBLISHED

Petitioner, Mill Creek Development, Inc., challenged the year 2000 assessment of a 39.03 acre parcel of land in Homer Township. Prior to 2000, the property was classified as farm land and valued at $7,620.00. In 2000 the county reassessed the property as residential, and the valuation increased to $534,033.00. The Will County Board of Review upheld the assessment and the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) affirmed the county's valuation. We confirm in part, reverse in part and remand, finding that part of the property should have been valued as farm land pursuant to the "developer's relief" section of the Property Tax Code. 765 ILCS 200/10-30(a) (2002).

In 1999, Mill Creek was planning to purchase a parcel of farm land and develop it into a residential subdivision. The farm land had an assessed value of $7,620.00. Mill Creek worked with the city of Lockport to prepare an annexation agreement, which was adopted in March 2000. In May of 2000, Mill Creek purchased the 39.03 acre tract of land. Shortly after the purchase, Mill Creek sold the southern 24.895 acres to M.C. Custom Homes. M.C. Custom Homes platted, subdivided and recorded the southern portion in July 2000. Mill Creek retained ownership of the northern acreage, but did not plat and subdivide it until June 2001.

On August 18, 2000, the Will County supervisor of assessments issued a notice of change of assessment on the property from $7,620.00 to $534,033.00. The notice indicated that the increase was based on a change of classification and usage because the land was not farmed in 2000.

Mill Creek petitioned the Will County Board of Review for relief from the assessment. The Board upheld the assessment; Mill Creek appealed the matter to PTAB, which affirmed the board's decision. Mill Creek then petitioned this court for administrative review.

I.

Since this issue is one of statutory interpretation, we review it under a de novo standard. See City of Belvidere, 181 Ill. 2d at 205. However, in arriving at our determination in this case, PTAB's determination will remain "relevant" to our analysis. See Branson v. Department of Revenue, 168 Ill. 2d 247, 254 (1995).

Mill Creek argues that it is entitled to relief under section 10-30 of the Illinois Property Tax Code, which provides that the mere platting and subdividing of vacant land or farm land cannot increase the assessed valuation of the land. 35 ILCS 200/10-30(a) (West 2001). Mill Creek contends that it has met the conditions required under section 10-30 for relief.

The statute provides, in part, that:

the platting and subdivision of property into separate lots and the development of the subdivided property with streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, sewer, water and utility lines shall not increase the assessed valuation of all or any part of the property, if (1) the property is platted and subdivided in accordance with the Plat Act [765 ILCS 205/0.01]; (2) the platting occurs after January 1, 1978; (3) at the time of platting the property is in excess of 10 acres; and (4) at the time of platting the property is vacant or used as a farm. 35 ILCS 200/10-30(a).
PTAB concedes that the land meets all of the conditions except one: that the property be vacant or farm land when platted and subdivided.

The sole issue in this case is whether section 10-30 applies to this parcel. The southern portion of the parcel in question was platted and subdivided in June 2000, but the northern portion was not platted and subdivided until June 2001. Because the two portions were recorded in different years, we will discuss the effect of section 10-30 on each one separately.

A. The Southern Portion

Statutory construction requires courts to ascertain and give effect to the purpose and intent of the legislature. In re C.W., 199 Ill. 2d 198, 211 (2002). Two rules of construction guide our determination. First, while interpreting statutes, we must avoid any construction which would produce absurd results or render the statute meaningless. People v. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d 36, 42 (2000). Second, when choosing between two statutes in direct conflict, "the ...


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