15.15.01.10

.10 Value of Easement.

A. Maximum Value.

(1) Computation. The maximum value of any easement to be purchased shall be the asking price, or the difference as of the valuation date between the fair market value of the land and the agricultural value of the land, whichever is lower.

(2) Valuation date. The valuation date for each property within an agricultural land preservation district being appraised in a given offer cycle shall be July 1, the last day in each offer cycle that an application may be submitted for consideration.

B. Fair Market Value.

(1) The fair market value of the land is the price as of the valuation date for the highest and best use of the property which a vendor, willing but not obligated to sell, would accept for the property, and which a purchaser, willing but not obligated to buy, would pay for the property if the property was not subject to any restriction imposed under these regulations.

(2) The Department of General Services shall determine the land's fair market value based on one or more appraisals by the State appraisers, and appraisals, if any, submitted by the landowner. The entire contiguous acreage shall be included in this determination, less 1 acre per single dwelling.

(3) In determining the fair market value of land, improvements to the land may not be considered.

(4) If the subject property is less than 100 acres and its fair market value is being determined under the direct sales comparison approach, the adjustments for size between the subject property and the comparison properties shall be calculated as though the subject property is 100 acres.

C. Agricultural Value. The agricultural value of land shall be determined by the formula provided under COMAR 15.15.02.

D. Appeal Route. In the establishment of an easement value, the following steps of appeal are available:

(1) If the landowner and Foundation do not agree on the value of the easement as determined by the State, either party may request that the matter be submitted to the property tax assessment appeals board where the property is located for arbitration;

(2) Either party may appeal the property tax assessment appeal board's determination of the easement value by petitioning the Maryland Tax Court for a de novo hearing;

(3) Either party may appeal from the Tax Court's final order to the circuit court of the county where the property is located.

E. Effect of Board's Determination in a Purchase of the Easement. Unless the parties agree to a lesser value or an appeal is noted to the Maryland Tax Court, the parties are bound for a period of 2 years by the property tax assessment appeal board's determination of the easement value.

F. Consideration of Application Following Appeal.

(1) If, following an appeal, the round of easement offers has closed for the offer cycle that the landowner originally applied to sell the easement, the Foundation shall consider the landowner's application in the next available offer cycle as provided in §F(2) or (3) of this regulation.

(2) Foundation Would Have Made Offer.

(a) If the value of the easement as finally determined on appeal is such that the landowner would have received an offer in the offer cycle that he applied to sell the easement, the Foundation, subject to §F(2)(b) and (c) of this regulation, shall offer the landowner a sum equal to the value determined on appeal or the original asking price, whichever is lower.

(b) The Foundation may make an offer only if:

(i) Funds are available;

(ii) A majority of the board members at-large approve the offer;

(iii) The State Treasurer and the Secretary have recommended that the offer be made; and

(iv) The value determined on appeal is greater than the State's appraised value of the land.

(c) If the conditions of this section have been met, the Foundation shall make the offer:

(i) After paying the current year's appraisal costs for the county where the property is located; and

(ii) If possible, before making the first ranked current offer cycle applicant in that county an offer.

(3) Foundation Would Not Have Made Offer.

(a) If the value of the easement as finally determined on appeal is such that the landowner would not have received an offer in the offer cycle that he had applied to sell the easement, the Foundation, subject to §F(3)(b) and (c) of this regulation, may consider his application to sell along with the new applications.

(b) The Foundation may not consider the landowner's application if:

(i) The landowner has not requested in writing that the Foundation do so; and

(ii) The value determined on appeal is less than or equal to the State's appraised value of the land.

(c) The Foundation shall treat the landowner's written request as a formal application.