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Spence v. Kent County Board of Assessment

Superior Court of Delaware

November 27, 2019

RANDY SPENCE and MARCIA SPENCE, Appellants,
v.
KENT COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT, Appellee.

          Submitted: August 1, 2019

         Upon an Appeal from the Decision of the Kent County Board of Assessment

          Randy Spence and Marcia Spence, pro se Appellants.

          Craig T. Eliassen, Esquire of Schmittinger and Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, Delaware; attorney for the Appellee.

          ORDER

          William L.Witham. Jr. Resident Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This is an appeal filed by Randy and Marcia Spence, farm owners, from a decision of the Kent County Board of Assessment (hereinafter, the "Board") determining that their property was only partially subject to the tax exemption, and that the poultry buildings situated on the property were not tax exempt. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Board is AFFIRMED.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         1. Appellants' farm is located at 863 Central Church Road, Dover, Delaware.[1]The farm was assessed by the Kent County Assessment Office in 2018.[2] Appellants challenged the assessment in front of the Board, which held a hearing regarding the matter on March 19, 2019.[3] The Board heard an argument by Mr. Spence, who claimed that the poultry houses situated on their farm should be exempt under Delaware law, and also a presentation by Susan Durham, Director of the Kent County Department of Finance.[4] At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board voted unanimously to deny the challenge and leave Mr. and Mrs. Spence with a partial exemption.[5] The Spences appealed the decision to this Court.[6]

         PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         2. Appellants argue that their poultry houses fall under the tax exemption of 9 Del. C. § 8101(f) because they represent nutrient management facilities.[7] The Board submits that the poultry houses are not covered by the statute because the statute does not explicitly exempt them, and the statute should be read narrowly.[8]

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         3. This Court is limited in its' review to "a determination of whether the Board's decision is supported by substantial evidence and free from legal error." Substantial evidence is that "relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."[9] In reviewing the record for substantial evidence, the Court will consider the record in the light most favorable to the party prevailing below.[10] However, the "[C]ourt is not authorized to make its own factual findings, assess credibility of witnesses or weigh the evidence."[ ...


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