Can a Property Have No Value for Assessment Purposes Even If Experts Testify That It Had Value ?

In County of Monroe v. Bolus, 149 Pa. Commw. 458, 613 A.2d 178 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1992) and Bolus v. County of Monroe, 168 Pa. Commw. 459, 650 A.2d 1188, 646 So. 2d 1188 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994) Bolus purchased 7.64 acres of land, four of which had previously been designated as wetlands by the Army Corps of Engineers. Accordingly, the Army Corps of Engineers informed Bolus that he had to cease development of the wetland portion. Bolus then applied for a wetland crossing permit, which would allow him access to the 3.64 acres of land not designated as wetlands. Thereafter, Monroe County conducted a reassessment and assessed the land at $ 88,750. Bolus appealed, and the tax assessment board reduced the valuation to $ 71,310. On Bolus's appeal, the court of common pleas rejected the County's expert testimony regarding valuation. Bolus's expert testified that the property, both wetland and non-wetland, had a value of $ 1,000 per acre. Notwithstanding, the court determined the property's value to be $ 0 for assessment purposes. While the County's appeal to this Court was pending, Bolus was granted the wetland crossing permit; we therefore remanded the matter for additional testimony. The County then presented evidence that the permits had been issued. Bolus presented evidence that replacement wetlands would need to be created to replace the 1.6 acres of displaced wetlands. Bolus further offered that despite the issuance of the permits, the property still had a $ 0 value for assessment purposes. The court of common pleas once again determined the value of the property to be $ 0. On appeal, the Court reversed the court noting that Bolus's own testimony was insufficient to support a finding that the property had no value. The Court thus vacated the court's order and remanded for further findings based on the record. On remand, the court once again determined that the property had no value. Monroe County appealed a second time. The Court concluded that since our earlier decision found Bolus's testimony to be incompetent, the court erred in determining that the property had no value because both parties' experts testified that the property had some value. Hence, the Court again vacated the court's order and remanded the matter for further proceedings to be heard by another judge of the court.