Vacant Land Classification
Per Colorado Revised Statutes, section 39-1-102(14.4.) (a), residential land is defined as “a parcel or contiguous parcels of land under common ownership upon which residential improvements are located and that is used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements located thereon.”
In February of 2020, the Colorado Supreme Court issued rulings in several property assessment appeal cases, and therein resolved a number of ambiguities and clarified the definition of “residential land” for tax purposes. The Colorado Supreme Court held that for undeveloped land to qualify as “contiguous” residential land, the parcel seeking contiguous residential status must be:
(1) commonly owned with residential land as demonstrated in the real estate records of the County Clerk and Recorder,
(2) be used as a unit with the commonly owned residential land, and
(3) be physically touching a commonly owned parcel with residential improvements.
Garfield County Clerk and Recorder records are used to determine whether parcels are commonly owned. For example, if a family has multiple trusts, each with different names, and each trust owns parcels that are contiguous with the other trust’s residential land, the contiguous undeveloped parcel will not be classified as residential land unless the owner/trust names are common in the real estate records of the Clerk and Recorder. This is true when the trustee, benefactor, etc. are the exact same for both trusts.
Further, parcels will no longer qualify for residential land classification if the parcels do not physically touch a parcel under common ownership that contains a residential improvement as of January 1, 2021. For instance, if three parcels are under common ownership according to the Garfield County Clerk and Recorder’s real estate records, used as a unit, but only one of the three parcels physically touch a parcel with residential improvement, only the parcel that touches the commonly owner parcel with residential improvements will be classified as residential land for property tax purposes. The third parcel will be classified as vacant land.
We have also posted links below for each of the relevant contiguous residential land court cases for your review. Again, if you have any questions please contact the Assessor’s Office at (970)945-9134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.