John Simpson Wins Big Marina Tax Appeal Case!

Comments are closed
Posted by

Who says I can’t think up catchy headlines?

Since it’s now a matter of public record, I can now comment on the particulars of a case my marina tax appeal appraisal helped to win.  It’s the story of the Osprey Point marina in Rock Hall, Maryland and it was for tax year 2007.

The Scales of Justice Weight In for John Simpson, MAIOsprey Point is not like other marinas because it has a really nice inn and a large amount of unbuildable land.  The property has almost 30 acres with a separate lot of 15 acres that has no potential for development.  The marina does not have boat repairs or fuel; it has 159 slips.  The inn has a restaurant and bar.  As you can imagine, with a very attractive waterfront inn and a long entrance road, it is picturesque.  Actually, it’s an inn with a marina rather than a marina with an inn.  That’s probably the best way to describe it.  Of course, that doesn’t mean much when the assessor has you seriously over-assessed.

There were lots of arguments bandied about in Maryland Tax Court, but the most telling was about the land.  You see, the assessor believed that the extra land was subdividable and worth a kings fortune.  Not just into two lots, mind you, but a whole minor subdivision in a town that really, really doesn’t want anyone to subdivide a lot, let alone creating a bunch of them.  There was not a single precedent for this and it’s not like subdividing waterfront land hasn’t been tried there before.  The operative word is tried… all such efforts failed.

I blogged extensively about the problems that confront building on waterfront land in a six part series called Realities of Marina Land.  Yes, the source material for that was the research I did for this tax appeal case.  The excess land suffers from flooding, poor soils, poor drainage, is heavily wooded (and you cannot cut down the trees per the Chesapeake Critical Bay Area law), you could only have 600 yards of fill for the entire property (that doesn’t even create a driveway, let alone allow building), the flood zone classification would preclude livable area being on the first floor and so on.  Does some of this sound familiar to you marina owners out there?

Of course, there were issues with the valuation of the inn and the marina.  Lots of sales discussion when we all know there are no sales of operating inns with marinas.  It was kind of like trying to tell what shade of orange are the oranges while you’re comparing it to an apple.  I won’t get into those arguments for brevity’s sake.

The original assessment was $7,083,800 or $44,552 per slip (another example where the per-slip unit of measure was a useless indicator).  Final  judgment – $3,583,375, almost the same amount as my appraisal.  Taxes saved – $45,225.49.  And that was only for tax year 2007.  I can’t wait for 2008 and 2009!

My client, an attorney, is thrilled.  The marina owners are thrilled.  I’m happy as a clam.  It seems that everyone is happy… except for the assessor.

John's Signature

Related Posts

Comments are closed.