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In re Appeal

Decided: September 25, 1968.

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPEAL OF THE CITY OF EAST ORANGE FROM THE ASSESSMENT OF PROPERTY IN THE TOWNSHIP OF LIVINGSTON, COUNTY OF ESSEX, FOR THE YEAR 1961. CITY OF EAST ORANGE, RESPONDENT,
v.
TOWNSHIP OF LIVINGSTON, APPELLANT



Conford, Collester and Labrecque. The opinion of the court was delivered by Labrecque, J.A.D.

Labrecque

The Township of Livingston appeals from a judgment of the Division of Tax Appeals (Division) reducing the aggregate assessment levied upon lands owned by the City of East Orange comprising the portion of the East Orange Water Reserve located in Livingston.

The lands in question are fully described in In re Appeal of East Orange, 80 N.J. Super. 219 (App. Div. 1963), certification denied 41 N.J. 200 (1963). In that case the aggregate assessment for 1957 of $1,734,000 (which had been reduced by the Division to $1,238,110) was further reduced to $1,216,085 (based upon a 50% ratio). By virtue of the

"Freeze" Act, N.J.S.A. 54:2-43, the same figures were carried over to 1958 and 1959. There was no appeal from the 1960 assessment of $1,711.500 but the same assessment for 1961 was reduced by the Division to $1,181,900, and is now before us.

Under N.J.S.A. 54:4-3.3 public water supply lands are taxable in the taxing district where located "without regard to any buildings or other improvements thereon, in the same manner and to the same extent as the lands of private persons * * *." The method to be followed in the assessment of such properties has been fully set forth in a number of decisions, particularly City of Newark v. West Milford Township, 9 N.J. 295 (1952) and, more recently, In re Appeal of East Orange, supra, and need not be repeated here. The sole question with which we are concerned is the true value as of October 1, 1960 of the 1,485.59 acres of raw undeveloped land and its translation, by the use of a proper ratio, into the assessment for 1961.

At the hearing in the Division East Orange rested its case primarily on the testimony of its expert Franklin Hannoch, who had also testified in the 1957 appeal. Livingston relied on the testimony of its expert John O. Lasser, who had not testified in the 1957 case. Both were well qualified. For purposes of convenience the tract was subdivided into seven classifications based on elevation. The following is a breakdown of per acre values assigned by each expert for each classification, including also Hannoch's values as given in the 1957 case:

VALUE PER ACRE IN DOLLARS

Hannoch Hannoch Lasser

Class Elevation Acres (1957 case) (1961) (1961)

1 streams, etc. 60.9 0 500 500

2 less than 170 ft. 247.69 500 500 500

3 between 170-175 ft. 92.9 750 500 800

4 between 175-180 ft. 47.7 1,000 1,200 1,500

5 between 180-185 ft. 42.35 1,500 ...


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