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Nonuse of nature conservatory land does not constitute a tax exempt charitable use.

The Superior Court of Connecticut ruled that property did not qualify for a charitable tax exemption when the land was held for conservation purposes and no charitable activity took place on the premises.

The Aspetuck Land Trust, Inc. (Aspetuck) is a nonprofit corporation organized to preserve natural resources and to promote the study of nature and wildlife. In September 2005, Aspetuck purchased one half of Great Salt Marsh Island in Bridgeport, with the goal of preserving the land's undeveloped condition "to promote the well-being of social man" In October 2006, Aspetuck sponsored a bird-observation walk on the island, but otherwise had not organized any activity involving the property. Aspetuck permits visitors to access the island provided they do not disturb the natural conditions, although no visitors had been observed as of March 2008. Aspetuck applied for a charitable property tax exemption for 2005, which the city assessor denied; Aspetuck filed suit to challenge the decision.

The trial court emphasized that property must actually be used for a charitable purpose to be tax exempt. While holding land to preserve its natural state has aspects of a charitable use, the mere nonuse of land does not satisfy the exemption requirements, according to the court. The court held that for land conservation to qualify as a charitable use, the landowner must provide some minimal educational or other charitable activity on or near the property. Because Aspetuck did not advertise the island to potential visitors and did not hold the bird walk until 2006, the court concluded that the land was not exempt from 2005 property taxes. The assessor's decision was affirmed.

Aspetuck Land Trust v. City of Bridgeport

Superior Court of Connecticut

March 3, 2008

947 A.2d 32 (Conn. Super. 2008)
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Title Annotation:Recent Court Decisions
Publication:Appraisal Journal
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U1CT
Date:Jan 1, 2009
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