May 30, 2013
THE OAKS APARTMENTS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
BOROUGH OF SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS, Defendant-Respondent.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued May 21, 2013.
On appeal from the Tax Court of New Jersey, Docket Nos. 5051-2008 and 0513-2009.
Steven R. Irwin argued the cause for appellant.
John T. Lane, Jr., argued the cause for respondent.
Before Reisner and Hoffman Judges.
Plaintiff, The Oaks Apartments, appeals from a September 23, 2011 order entered by the Tax Court, rejecting plaintiff's challenge to the 2008 and 2009 tax year valuations of its property, known as Block 59, Lots 12, 21, and 31 in the Borough of Spring Lake Heights.
The property is occupied by a thirty-six unit apartment building which was the primary focus of the tax appeal. Using only the income approach to valuation, plaintiff's expert opined that the market value of the property was substantially lower than its assessed value. However, on cross-examination, he admitted that the property owners failed to provide him with significant financial information, and as a result, he tried to fill in the gaps in data by using "market information."
For reasons she explained in some detail, Judge Gail Menyuk did not find plaintiff's expert credible. To the contrary, she found it more likely than not that the apartment building was not well managed, and that the expert's valuation opinion did not accurately reflect the property's value. Therefore, she concluded that plaintiff did not overcome the presumption that the assessment was correct for each year. See Pantasote Co. v. City of Passaic, 100 N.J. 408, 412-13 (1985).
On this appeal, plaintiff contends that the judge should have granted defendant's adjournment request, the judge applied the wrong standard of proof in evaluating plaintiff's evidence, and the judge should have found plaintiff's expert credible. Having reviewed the record we find these arguments to be completely without merit
We find no abuse of the judge's discretion in denying defendant's July 26 2011 request to adjourn the scheduled July 28 2011 trial Denying the request resulted in defendant being unable to present expert testimony at the trial because the defense had not yet obtained or served an expert report However the judge's ruling did not require her to automatically credit the testimony of plaintiff's expert See
County of Middlesex v Clearwater Village Inc 163 N.J.Super 166 174 (App Div 1978) certif denied 79 N.J. 483 (1979)
We conclude that the judge applied the correct proof standard See Pantasote supra 100 N.J. at 412-13 We find no basis to second-guess her decision that plaintiff's valuation expert was not a credible witness See Mori v. Town of Secaucus 17
N.J.Tax 96 98 (App Div 1997) certif denied 154 N.J. 608 (1998) Accordingly we affirm substantially for the reasons stated by Judge Menyuk in her written opinion dated August 11 2011 Plaintiff's appellate arguments do not warrant further discussion See R 2:11-3(e)(1)(E)