Some time ago, I offered some observations about how to value the diminution in property value caused by contamination. I examined in particular the case of a property where someone other than the landowner had the obligation to clean up. All of this was motivated by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’ decision in Harley-Davidson’s long-running property tax appeal.
In September, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on the case. Harley-Davidson Motor Co. v. Springettsbury Twp., No. 82 MAP 2014 (Pa. Sept. 29, 2015). That formed the subject of my October environmental practice column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly. Interestingly, the Supreme Court appears to endorse a reduction in property value for property tax purposes on account of “stigma.” The court’s notion of stigma is not tied to the expected costs to cure or the (negative) value of any restrictions on use. This is a deduction to take account of the fact that the property just is not quite right, even though someone other than the landowner has to satisfy the regulators with any clean up. In that case, the assessed value was reduced by 5% to account for stigma, and in a non-industrial context the court implied that it might endorse a large deduction.
Read Further Thoughts on Valuing Contaminated Property, 38 Pa. L. Weekly 972 (Oct. 20, 2015), by clicking here.