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Russell Block Associates v. Board of Assessors of Worcester (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-145-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   14-P-283                                        Appeals Court   RUSSELL BLOCK ASSOCIATES  vs.  BOARD OF ASSESSORS OF WORCESTER. No. 14-P-283. Suffolk.     November 10, 2014. – September 16, 2015.   Present:  Rubin, Brown, & Maldonado, JJ. Taxation, Real estate tax:  abatement, classification of property.  Real Property, Tax.     Appeal from a decision of the Appellate Tax Board.     John F. O’Day, Jr., Assistant City Solicitor, for board of assessors of Worcester. Daniel I. Cotton for the taxpayer.     BROWN, J.  The board of assessors of Worcester (assessors) challenges a decision of the Appellate Tax Board (board) granting the taxpayer an abatement of the fiscal year (FY) 2012 tax on its parking garage.  The issue for consideration is whether the board erred by finding and ruling that the subject property was a multiple-use property appropriately classified as part residential and part commercial.[1]  See G. L. c. 59, § 2A(b).  We conclude that the board’s classification determination was a reasonable interpretation of the statutory language.  Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the board. 1.  Facts.  We summarize the board’s findings.[2]  In 1992, the taxpayer, Russell Block Associates, constructed a twenty-four story residential building (Tower) in the city of Worcester.  The Tower development project was conditioned on the construction of a parking garage.[3]  The five-story garage in issue contains 300 parking spaces and is located across a small side street from the Tower.  There are no dwelling units in the garage.  By contract entitled “Agreement to Provide Parking Spaces,” the taxpayer agreed to reserve a minimum of one hundred spaces and up to a maximum of 250 spaces for exclusive use by the tenants of the Tower. For the next nineteen years, the assessors classified the garage as a mixed-use property, taxing a large percentage of its value at the lower residential rate.[4]  In classifying the property in this manner, the assessors followed the guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Revenue (commissioner).[5]  See G. L. c. 58, § 3; McNeill v. Assessors of W. Springfield, 396 Mass. 603, 606 (1986).  Beginning in FY 2012, however, the assessors classified the property as entirely commercial. 2.  Standard of review.  Our task is to embrace an interpretation “consistent with the purpose of the statute and in harmony with the statute as a whole.”  Adams v. Assessors of Westport, 76 Mass. App. Ct. 180, 183-184 (2010), quoting from Sudbury v. Scott, 439 Mass. […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm

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