Property Was Zoned Residential
In Eldenbrady v. City of Albion, Michigan Court of Appeals, No. 297735, October 4, 2011 taxpayers were entitled to a local Michigan principal residence property tax exemption on their 10-acre parcel that was contiguous to the property on which their home was located because the parcel was zoned residential at the time and was unoccupied. The Michigan Court of Appeals held that the Michigan Tax Tribunal misinterpreted the exemption provision and committed an error of law when it determined that the 10-acre parcel did not qualify for the principal residence exemption because it contained an abandoned, unimproved, and unused school building and, therefore, was not vacant.
In order to qualify for the principal residence exemption under the applicable provision, the property needed only to be "unoccupied," not "vacant." The court concluded that these two terms were not synonymous for purposes of this case. The exemption provision did not require that contiguous property be vacant or completely devoid of any inanimate objects, contents, or structures to qualify for the principal residence exemption. Instead, the statutory language merely required that the contiguous property be "unoccupied," which meant "without human occupants." No part of the taxpayers' 10-acre parcel or abandoned school building was used as a residence or dwelling, and no part of the parcel or school building had tenants or residents.