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In the Matter of Appeal of Grand Forks Homes, Inc.; Continental v. State of North Dakota

March 22, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF APPEAL OF GRAND FORKS HOMES, INC.; CONTINENTAL HOMES, INC.; HOMESTEAD PLACE; MDI LIMITED PARTNERSHIP #35; FAITH & HOPE, LP; TERZETTO VILLAGE, LLC; AND GFH SUPPORTIVE HOUSING, LLC, APPELLANTS
v.
STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA, BY AND THROUGH STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, AND GRAND FORKS COUNTY,
APPELLEES



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

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

N.D. Supreme Court

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. v. State of North Dakota,

2011 ND 65

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

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Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. v. State

No. 20100198

[¶1] Grand Forks Homes, Inc., and several other property owners (collectively "property owners") appeal from a district court judgment dismissing their appeals from decisions of the State Board of Equalization ("State Board") and the Grand Forks Board of County Commissioners ("County Board") denying their applications for exemptions from real estate taxes. The property owners also challenge the court's denial of their motions to amend the pleadings to seek a writ of mandamus and to allow the filing of amici curiae briefs. We conclude the court did not err in dismissing the property owners' appeals because the State Board had no authority to grant their requests for tax exemptions and the property owners' appeal from the County Board's decision was untimely. We further conclude the court did not abuse its discretion in denying the property owners' motions. We affirm.

I [¶2] Most of the property owners are nonprofit corporations that own and operate apartment complexes in Grand Forks and rent units to low-income families or to physically or mentally disabled persons. They are described in more detail in Grand Forks Homes, Inc. v. Grand Forks Bd. of County Comm'rs, 2011 ND 50, ¶¶ 2-4. GFH Supportive Housing, LLC, which was not a party in that case, is a limited liability company described in this record as "an initiative for transitional housing in the City of Grand Forks" and the "recipient of a Community Development Block Grant, [which] provides a public benefit, and is a charitable, non-profit."

[¶3] The property owners filed applications with the city of Grand Forks for real estate tax exemptions for 2009, claiming their properties were exempt from taxation under N.D. Const. art. X, § 5, and N.D.C.C. § 57-02-08(8) because they are used for charitable or other public purposes. After the city denied the applications, the property owners appealed to the County Board, acting as the Grand Forks County Board of Equalization. The County Board denied the requests for tax exemptions on July 7, 2009. The property owners then appealed the County Board's decision to the State Board, which made no change to the assessments. On October 22, 2009, the property owners appealed the September 22, 2009, State Board decision and the July 7, 2009, County Board decision to district court.

[¶4] The State Board and the County Board moved to dismiss the property owners' appeals. In response, the property owners sought to amend their pleadings to seek a writ of mandamus directing the State Board to act on their tax exemption requests. The property owners also moved to allow the filing of amici curiae briefs in district court. The court ruled the State Board had no authority to grant the property owners' requested relief and dismissed their appeal from the County Board's decision because it was not filed within 30 days from the County Board's July 7, 2009, decision. The court denied the motion to amend the pleadings, concluding it could not issue a writ of mandamus directing the State Board to perform an act it had no authority to perform. The court also denied the property owners' request to allow the filing of amici curiae briefs.

II [ΒΆ5] The property owners argue the district court erred in concluding the State Board had no legal authority to determine whether their properties are entitled ...


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