Appeals from the Order of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in case of Re: Appeal of Valley Forge Golf Club, Inc. from Final Assessment for Years 1967 and 1969 by Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes of Montgomery County; Upper Merion Area School District and Upper Merion Township, Intervenors, Nos. 67-5015 and 68-15523.
Desmond J. McTighe, with him Philip D. Weiss, McTighe, Koch, Brown and Weiss, for appellant.
Anthony A. Giangiulip, Solicitor, for Board for the Assessment and Revision of Taxes of Montgomery County, appellee.
Anthony L. Differ, Solicitor, for Upper Merion School District, Intervenor.
James E. Meneses, Solicitor, for Upper Merion Township, Intervenor.
Robert B. Reynolds, Solicitor, for Montgomery County.
President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer and Rogers. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Kramer. Judge Crumlish, Jr., joins in this opinion.
Valley Forge Golf Club, Inc. (Valley Forge) owns 135.7 acres of land at King of Prussia, Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County. This land, located near the junction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Schuylkill Expressway, is also close to the King of Prussia Industrial Park, the King of Prussia Shopping Center and the site of the northern terminus of the Blue Route, a multi-lane highway which, when completed, will provide fast and convenient travel through densely settled suburban areas from King of Prussia to the Delaware River south of Philadelphia. The tract in question was improved as a golf course many years ago and Valley Forge has used it as a public course since prior to 1964. In 1966, the property was assessed for local tax purposes at $143,000 based upon an actual value of $429,000.*fn1 In 1966, the Board for the Assessment and Revision of Taxes increased its assessment to $525,400, arrived at by applying the ratio of one-third
to a determination of an actual value of $1,576,200. Valley Forge filed timely appeals from its assessment for the years 1967 and 1969, apparently neglecting to appeal for 1968.
The Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, after two days of hearings, found that the actual value of the premises at both 1967 and 1969 was $2,250,000 and, applying the one-third ratio, fixed the assessment for both years at $750,000. From this order Valley Forge has taken these appeals, which we will dispose of together.
The appellant neither below nor here has contended that the actual value of its property was less than $1,576,200. Its appeals are based entirely upon the asserted lack of uniformity of its assessment with the assessment of other golf courses in Montgomery County. It sought to show such lack of uniformity by the testimony of the supervising assessor of the Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes and the assessment records of a number of golf courses in the county. This evidence tended to show that the assessing authorities in respect of eleven (11) (including Valley Forge) of the forty-four (44) golf courses in the county, determined the actual value of properties used as golf courses in the following fashion: (1) by multiplying the number of acres by a per acre value; (2) by adding to the amount thus arrived at, the product of the number of holes times a per hole value; and (3) by adding to the sum of the first two calculations a value for buildings. In the case of seven of the 11 examples a per acre value of $3,000 was used; in the case of the remaining four, the figures used were $300, $3,500, a ...