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In the Matter of Appeal of Grand Forks Homes, Inc v. Grand Forks Board of County Commissioners

March 22, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF APPEAL OF GRAND FORKS HOMES, INC.,
CONTINENTAL HOMES, INC., HOMESTEAD PLACE, MDI LIMITED PARTNERSHIP #35, AND FAITH & HOPE, LP,
APPELLANTS
v.
GRAND FORKS BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, APPELLEE IN THE MATTER OF APPEAL OF TERZETTO VILLAGE, LLC,
APPELLANT
v.
GRAND FORKS BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS,
APPELLEE



Appeals from the District Court of Grand Forks County, Northeast Central Judicial District, the Honorable Debbie Gordon Kleven, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Crothers, Justice.

N.D. Supreme Court

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. v. Grand Forks Bd. of Co. Comm'rs,

2011 ND 50

This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]

[Download as WordPerfect]

AFFIRMED.

Opinion of the Court by Crothers, Justice.

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. v. Grand Forks Bd. of County Comm'rs

Nos. 20100197 & 20100202

[¶1] Grand Forks Homes, Inc., and several other property owners (collectively "property owners")

Appeal from the district court judgments affirming the Grand Forks County Board of Commissioners' ("Board") denial of their applications for abatement of real estate taxes and denying their motions for an extension of time and for a remand to the Board to consider additional evidence. We conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the property owners' motions. We further conclude the Board did not misapply state law on tax exemptions for public charities and property used exclusively for charitable or other public purposes and did not act arbitrarily, capriciously or unreasonably in denying the applications for abatement of real estate taxes. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Most of the property owners in these cases are nonprofit corporations owning and operating apartment complexes in Grand Forks and renting units to low-income families or to physically or mentally disabled persons. Grand Forks Homes, Inc., is a North Dakota nonprofit corporation that owns Oak Manor Apartments, Cherry Height Apartments and LaGrave Place Apartments, which are all operated and managed by the Grand Forks Housing Authority. Apartment occupants must meet low-income eligibility requirements. Continental Homes is owned by Continental Homes, Inc., a North Dakota nonprofit corporation. Continental Homes' occupant services include a resident service coordinator and a learning center. Tenants must meet low-income eligibility requirements. Homestead Place, a North Dakota nonprofit corporation owning and operating Homestead Place Apartments, is designed to house elderly families and persons with disabilities. Tenants must meet low-income eligibility requirements, and occupant services include a resident services coordinator and a learning center. Members of the board of directors of the Grand Forks Housing Authority comprise the board of directors of Homestead Place.

[¶3] Riverside Manor Apartments provides low-income housing and is owned by MIDI Limited Partnership #35. Riverside Manor, LLC, is the general partner which owns one percent of the limited partnership, and National Tax Credit Fund 37 L.P. owns the remaining 99 percent. Riverside Manor, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Grand Forks Homes, Inc., and has an option to purchase Riverside Manor Apartments. Redwood, Oakwood, and Westwood are three separate apartment buildings owned by Faith & Hope, LP, a limited partnership in which the general partner, Grand Forks Homes, Inc., owns 99.9 percent and Faith and Hope, LLC, owns the remaining 0.1 percent. Faith and Hope, LLC, is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Grand Forks Homes, Inc. Occupancy in Redwood is limited to persons who are developmentally disabled. Occupancy in Oakwood is limited to persons who are chronically mentally ill. Occupancy in Westwood is limited to persons with physical disabilities. All tenants must also meet low-income eligibility requirements.

[¶4] Terzetto Village, LLC, a limited liability company owned by Westend Terzetto's, also a North Dakota nonprofit corporation, owns single-family residential lots in Grand Forks. Terzetto Village provides low- to moderate-income families the opportunity to own homes. At least 51 percent of its homes must be sold to low- to moderate-income families.

[¶5] These property owners filed applications for abatement of real estate taxes for 2006, 2007, and 2008 with the city of Grand Forks, claiming their properties were exempt from taxation under state law because they are used for charitable or other public purposes. Following several hearings on the applications, the Gand Forks City Council ("Council") recommended the abatement requests be denied. The Board, based on the record before the Council, concurred with the Council's recommendations.

[ΒΆ6] The property owners appealed the Board's decision to district court. The property owners also moved to extend time or stay the proceedings and to remand the case to the Board so the Board could consider the testimony offered during Council proceedings. The district court denied the motions and affirmed the Board's ...


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