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Lane County, OR property tax assessment
Parcel Maps. Building Permits. Homeowners Lists. Radius Search. Company Events. OAR Under the current approach to taxing real property, it is reasonable to assume that the tax payable on a dominant lot is assessed not only on the lot itself, but also on any servitudes beneficial to the dominant lot. Applying the current method of assessing real property for ad valorem taxes to servitudes, the burden of a servitude would tend to lower the assessed value of the servient estate, resulting in a lower tax liability.
In effect, the servitude is carved out of the land being taxed. On the other hand, the benefit of the servitude would enhance the value of the dominant estate and result in an increased tax liability. Thus, if the servitude is assessed with the dominant tenement, the servitude should be secure from the effect of a tax foreclosure deed. Each lot in Westwood PUD is assessed at percent of its real market value.
As previously stated, each lot in Westwood PUD is both a dominant and a servient estate or tenement with respect to the servitudes CCRs. The servitude benefits run in favor of the other lots in Westwood PUD as a dominant tenement. The servitude burdens run as to each lot in the Westwood PUD scheme as a servient tenement.
There are, in other words, mutual and reciprocal cross-servitudes as to each lot in Westwood PUD. Applying the tax assessment approach to this case, Lane County acquired in the tax foreclosure sale the interests taxed. The foregoing notwithstanding, the text and context of ORS Either answer is plausible. It is, therefore, appropriate to consider legislative history. See PGE v. When this court reaches legislative history, we consider it along with text and context to determine whether all of those together make legislative intent clear. Although the legislative history of ORS The predecessor to ORS Laws , ch.
At that time, the section provided that, in a tax foreclosure, the county took title "free and clear of any assessments for local improvements levied by any municipal corporation," but the municipal corporation had a right to protect its assessments by purchasing the property pursuant to certain procedures. In , the section was amended to provide that, when a municipal corporation exercised its right to purchase, it took title "superior to any lien, claim or charge whatever against such lands," with certain exceptions not relevant here.
The language at issue in this case was added in , at which time the section provided that the county took title "free from all liens and incumbrances [sic]," and the municipal corporation, which retained the right to purchase the property, took "superior to any lien, claim or charge whatever" against the property. We have been unable to unearth any legislative history indicating the purpose for those amendments, nor what particular meaning of "encumbrances" the legislature intended to use when it added that term.
But all of the earlier permutations of that statute appear to have focused on various forms of money charges against property, not on interests such as easements or servitudes. We find no basis for concluding that the legislature intended to change the focus of its policy in Thus, although legislative history is not dispositive, it is indicative.
After consideration of text, context, and legislative history, the intent of the legislature as to the meaning of the word "encumbrances" in ORS Resort to general maxims of statutory construction to aid in resolving the remaining uncertainty is, therefore, permissible. Luebke, Or. Consistent with our reading of the legislative history, there are several reasons that persuade us that the legislature would have intended to exclude servitudes from the meaning of the term "encumbrances" in ORS The CCRs in a planned community are important land use planning devices.
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CCRs enhance the value and enjoyment of planned community property and induce purchasers to buy lots in the development. Survival of those servitudes ensures that the planned community maintains its planned character. The servitudes are of great importance to the tranquility and the general welfare of the homeowners in a planned unit development, such as Westwood PUD.
The enforcement of servitudes is essential to foster planned community development. If the benefits of the servitudes, which the lot owners have enjoyed, are extinguished as a result of a tax foreclosure sale, potentially disastrous consequences could result. We do not believe that the legislature would have intended the planned character of a community, such as Westwood PUD, and the expectations of the homeowners to be defeated in this way.
Indeed, in enacting ORS Clearly, the preservation of a neighborhood through a general plan of servitudes is favored by the legislature. Servitudes that run with the land have an important place in land use planning.
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We further note that to hold that the tax foreclosure sale extinguished the CCRs arguably would deprive Lane County of all servitude benefits that are appurtenant to those lots as dominant estates. We do not believe that the legislature would have intended such a result.
We believe that the legislature would, instead, have intended to protect the servitude benefits to both the dominant and servient estates. Stated differently, we believe that the legislature would have intended that a county, at a tax foreclosure sale, acquires all servitude benefits such as the benefit from the common areas and road maintenance activity that are appurtenant to the title to the properties acquired. There is yet another reason to support the conclusion that the legislature would have intended the word "encumbrances" to relate to only claims for money or security interests in the subject property.
When, after consideration of the text, context, and legislative history, the meaning of a statute is unclear, this court will construe the statute so as to satisfy the constitution. See State v. Edgmand, Or. As previously stated, if the tax assessment is only of the servient estate, as required by ORS Schultze, N. We see no reason to assume that the legislature would wish to raise such questions. In sum, we do not believe that the legislature, in enacting ORS Consequently, the tax sale of the 15 lots in Westwood PUD did not extinguish the CCRs or the Association's power to make post-tax-foreclosure assessments.
See ORS The Oregon Planned Community Act regulates some, but not all, planned unit developments. Nevertheless, the parties in this case agree, as do we, that the Oregon Planned Community Act is useful for analytical purposes even when it is not expressly applicable to a particular homeowner's association. The declaration also establishes certain utility easements. The CCRs provide, inter alia, that the Association may assess each lot for common expenses, for a reserve account, and for replacing common property. On January 28, , a judgment and decree of foreclosure was entered, foreclosing the 15 lots for nonpayment of real property taxes.
As required by statutes then in effect, those properties were held by the Lane County Assessor, acting as the Lane County Tax Collector, for a redemption period of one year. The current redemption period is two years.
None of the 15 lots was redeemed. Palzer, 11 Puget Sound L. Enter your email. Westwood Homeowners Ass'n v. Lane County Annotate this Case.
Supreme Court of Oregon, In Banc. Argued and Submitted September 3, Decided December 16, UNIS, Justice. If the assessment is only of the servient estate, only that can be conveyed on a tax sale; and, vice versa, if the conveyance on the tax sale, or on the foreclosure of a tax lien, is of all the estate or interests in the land, freed from servitude as well as liens thereon, then the assessment must be based upon the land as land, regardless of servitude as well as liens.
Smith, supra, App. The decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of the circuit court are affirmed.
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