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DANA CORPORATION v. WILLIAM P. WENTZ (02/25/86)

decided: February 25, 1986.

DANA CORPORATION, ET AL., APPELLANTS
v.
WILLIAM P. WENTZ, JR., ET AL., APPELLEES. PLYMOUTH MEETING MALL, INC., APPELLANT V. MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, ET AL., APPELLEES. ROUSE-PLYMOUTH, INC., APPELLANT V. MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, ET AL., APPELLEES. SPS TECHNOLOGIES, INC., APPELLANT V. WILLIAM P. WENTZ, JR., ET AL., APPELLEES. THE ESTATE OF A. H. WEISS, ET AL., APPELLANTS V. MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS, ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County in the cases of Equitable Life and Marriott Corporation v. The Board of Assessment Appeals, Nos. 76-18919, 79-22919, 80-19987, 81-21637 and 82-17175 and other consolidated cases, inter alia, Container Corporation of America, et al. v. William P. Wentz, Jr., et al., Nos. 80-19866 thru 80-19869, 80-19987, 80-19988, 80-20142, 80-20451, 80-20452, 80-20555, 80-20603 thru 80-20610, 80-20662, 80-20732, 80-20723, 80-20724, 80-20826, 81-20826, 81-21637, and 81-21724 thru 81-21727, dated February 23, 1984 and amended March 23, 1984.

COUNSEL

Henry T. Reath, with him, Robert B. Parks, Duane, Morris & Heckscher, for appellants, Dana Corporation, et al.

William H. Bradbury, III, Wright, Manning & Sagendorph, for appellants, Plymouth Meeting Mall, Inc. and Rouse-Plymouth, Inc.

Jeremiah J. Cardamone, with him, Ann Thornburg Weiss, Timoney, Knox, Hasson & Weand, for appellant, SPS Technologies, Inc.

Edward J. Hughes, Kaufman & Hughes, for appellants, Estate of A. H. Weiss, deceased, et al.

Bernard A. Moore, Solicitor, with him, Bert M. Goodman, Assistant County Solicitor, for appellee, Montgomery County Board of Assessment Appeals.

Bruce J. Eckel, Assistant County Solicitor, for appellee, County of Montgomery.

Marc B. Davis, Pearlstine, Salkin, Hardiman & Robinson; Andrew B. Cantor, with him, Cassin W. Craig and Charles Potash, Wisler, Pearlstine, Talone, Craig & Garrity; Gilbert P. High, High, Swartz, Roberts & Seidel; John F. Walsh, Phillip R. Detwiler & Associates, and Parke H. Ulrich, Fox, Differ, Callahan, Ulrich & O'Hara, for other appellees.

Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.

Author: Macphail

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 271]

Dana Corporation, Plymouth Meeting Mall, Inc., Rouse-Plymouth, Inc., SPS Technologies, Inc., and The Estate of A. H. Weiss (collectively referred to as "Taxpayers") appeal here an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County which approved the common level ratio and the assessment methodology used by the Board of Assessment Appeals (Board) in Montgomery County in assessing Taxpayers' real estate for the years 1977-1983.

This case began when the Marriott Corporation filed a timely appeal challenging its assessment by the Board for the 1977 tax year. Separate tax appeals were subsequently filed by Taxpayers herein. By orders dated December 2, 1981 and February 9, 1983, all pending tax appeals challenging the common level ratio were consolidated. The proceedings were then bifurcated by the trial court into separate hearings on the common level ratio issue and the fair market

[ 95 Pa. Commw. Page 272]

    value and assessment of the Marriott. Only the issue of the common level ratio is before us on appeal.*fn1

In its opinion in support of its order, the trial court noted that the issue in the appeals was whether the Taxpayers' properties were properly and uniformly assessed for taxation purposes. Taxpayers contended before the trial court and argue here that their assessments were excessive, contrary to law and that the Board's common level ratio of 17% was unjust, improper and lacked uniformity. The trial court phrased the issue before it in these terms:

The common question presented here is whether the method for determining assessed values based on the application of the uniform assessment ratio (17%) to adjusted market values is lawful where the adjusted market value is determined by applying a uniform adjustment factor to market values established for the base year 1976?

Slip op. at 3. The trial court decided that the Board's methodology complied with statutory requirements.

In their appeals, Taxpayers challenge that methodology contending that it is not in accord with traditional methodology for ascertaining the common level ratio. They argue that the court erred in ruling that the Board had used the correct market data in arriving at the property assessments and in ruling that it was not the Board's burden to ...


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