Monday, November 13, 2006

Port LaBelle Land Gets Ag Exemption

Exemption For Old Golf Course Land Denied By Glades County Originally

LABELLE, FLORIDA -- After originally denying an agricultural tax exemption for 131 acres of former golf course land in Glades County, the Value Adjustment Board, after a lenghty hearing, reverses Glades Tax Assessor Larry Luckey denial of the exemption and allowed the huge tax break for the land owners.

The acreage laying on the Hendry and Glades county line was purchased at auction several years ago and is now owned by LaBelle Cattle Company LLC who petitioned for an agricultural exemption that would knock about 95% of the property taxes off the tax bill for 2006. Tax Assessor Larry Luckey denied the application because he says the golf course land had been platted and subdivided for single family homes since the 1970s, and the cattle grazing had only taken effect in the last several years, claiming the cattle were only an incidental use to the land, which most likely will be sold in individual lots in the future.

Attorney Steve Hartzell presented evidence before the board that court cases say that it is irrelevant whether a parcel of land is subdivided and platted to be granted an agricultural exemption. The owners have used the former golf course for grazing several dozen cows for the last several years, leasing the land to Comer Taylor for only $2000 a year, evidence presented showed. The land owner also spent scores of thousands of dollars on fencing for the acreage, leading Larry Luckey to argue that the land, although used for agricultural use, would not recover any profit for many many years.

The board members unanimously agreed to grant the petitioners motion to allow the agricultural exemption.

In the other dozen petitions before the board, most all were either withdrawn by the owners or denied by the board because the owners did not give enough evidence of incorrect land values compared to the Tax Assessor's valuation. Several agricultural exemptions were approved though, because the petitioners showed good cause why they missed the deadline for applying for the exemption.

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