Calendar Date: November 20, 2019
Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP, Binghamton (Paul T.
Sheppard of counsel), for appellants.
Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, Walden (Kara J. Cavallo of
counsel), for respondents.
Before: Clark, J.P., Mulvey, Devine and Pritzker, JJ.
from an order of the Supreme Court (Schick, J.), entered July
10, 2018 in Sullivan County, which, in two proceedings
pursuant to RPTL article 7, denied petitioners' motion
for partial summary judgment.
are the owners of 51 townhouses situated on.06-acre parcels
of land in a gated community within the Town of Mamakating,
Sullivan County. In the Town's 2016 tax assessment roll,
each of the subject properties was assessed a value of $115,
700, with $6, 000 attributed to the land and $109, 700
attributed to alleged partial improvements. For the 2017 tax
year, the assessed value of each of the properties increased
to $200, 800, with $15, 000 attributed to the land and $185,
800 attributed to completed improvements. Petitioners
commenced these RPTL article 7 proceedings to challenge the
2016 and 2017 assessments. Following joinder of issue and
discovery, petitioners moved for partial summary judgment on
those of their claims challenging the constitutionality and
legality of the assessment methodology used by the Town.
Supreme Court denied the motion, prompting this appeal.
to RPTL 305 (2), real property within an assessing unit must
"be assessed at a uniform percentage of value."
Although there is no fixed method for determining the market
value of real property, the method chosen must result in a
"fair and realistic value of the property involved so
that all property owners contribute equitably to the public
fisc" (Matter of Allied Corp. v Town of
Camillus, 80 N.Y.2d 351, 356 ; accord Matter
of Pinelawn Cemetery v Board of Assessors & Bd. of
Assessment Review of Town of Babylon, 300 A.D.2d 492,
493 , appeal dismissed and lv denied 100
N.Y.2d 532 ; Matter of Adams v Welch, 272
A.D.2d 642, 643 ). "[T]he creation of different
classes for purposes of taxation is permissible as long as
the classification is reasonable and the taxes imposed are
uniform within the class" (Foss v City of
Rochester, 65 N.Y.2d 247, 256 ; accord Tilles
Inv. Co. v Gulotta, 288 A.D.2d 303, 305 ,
appeal dismissed 97 N.Y.2d 725');">97 N.Y.2d 725 , lv
denied 98 N.Y.2d 605');">98 N.Y.2d 605 ). In other words, taxpayers
need not be treated the same as all others; rather, similarly
situated taxpayers must "be treated uniformly"
(Foss v City of Rochester, 65 N.Y.2d at 256; see
Killeen v New York State Off. of Real Prop. Servs., 253
A.D.2d 792, 793 ). A classification between taxpayers
may, however, violate constitutional equal protection
guarantees if the distinction between the classes is
"palpably arbitrary" or amounts to "invidious
discrimination" (Matter of Burrows v Board of
Assessors for Town of Chatham, 64 N.Y.2d 33, 36 ;
see Way v City of Beacon, 96 A.D.3d 829, 831 ;
Matter of Chasalow v Board of Assessors of County of
Nassau, 202 A.D.2d 499, 501 , lv denied
83 N.Y.2d 759');">83 N.Y.2d 759 ).
agree with Supreme Court that issues of fact preclude an
award of partial summary judgment in favor of petitioners.
Petitioners' submissions establish that their townhouses
were assessed using a different methodology than the
methodology used to value all other newly-constructed
single-family residences in the Town - none of which was a
townhouse. However, petitioners' submissions reveal that
questions of fact remain as to whether the townhouses and the
other single-family homes are in fact similarly situated and
whether the determination to treat townhouses as a separate
and distinct class of single-family residences was palpably
arbitrary or involved invidious discrimination (see Nash
v Assessor of Town of Southampton, 168 A.D.2d 102, 108
; compare Matter of Weiner v Board of Assessors
& /or Assessor of Town/Vil. of Harrison, 69 A.D.3d
949, 950 ). Accordingly, as petitioners failed to
establish their entitlement to partial summary judgment as a
matter of law, Supreme Court properly denied the motion.
Mulvey, Devine and Pritzker, JJ., concur.
that the order is ...