Texas Appellate Court Cases
Courts Issue Two Property Tax Decisions
Texas court of appeals have issued two recent decisions that deal with property tax areas, one on recreational vehicles and one on wildlife management appraisal.
In Rourk v. Cameron Appraisal District, 131 S. W. 3d 285 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2004), the owners of travel trailers and park model recreational vehicles located on rented spaces filed a class action suit against the county appraisal district (CAD).
The CAD appraised the property as manufactured housing, rather than considering them to be recreational vehicles. The owners claimed the vehicles were personal property exempt from taxation under Article VIII, Section 1(d)(2), Texas Constitution, and Tax Code Section 11.14.
The trial court held in favor of the appraisal district’s motion for summary judgment. The Corpus Christi Court of Appeals, however, reversed the summary judgment and the order denying the class certification and remanded the case for trial as a class action.
The Court held that each property owner did not have to exhaust administrative remedies when the constitutionality of the district’s actions was in question. The Court stated that the district’s effort to redefine “manufactured home” was an unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power.
Wildlife management appraisal
The case of Cordillera Ranch, Ltd. v. Kendall County Appraisal District, 136 S.W.3d 249 (Tex. App.—San Antonio 2004, no pet.h.) addressed the appraisal district’s denial of wildlife management appraisal.
Owners of property located in a cooperative for the management of wildlife applied individually for designations of their land as qualified open-space, pursuant to Tax Code Section 23.51.
The trial court held in favor of the appraisal district’s denial of the designations, holding that each lot had to perform three of the seven qualifying wildlife management activities required by law.
The San Antonio Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment. It held that the qualifying activities concerned the agricultural use requirement rather than intensity of use and that qualification must be based on individual lots, except in the case where several tracts have the same ownership.
Contributing writer: Debbie Cartwright