PA Supreme Court Rules Contamination and Stigma Relevant for Determining Fair Market Value for Tax Assessments
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Harley-Davison Motor Co. v. Springettsbury Twp., Dkt. No J-102-2014 (Sept. 29, 2015), ruled that the presence of contamination, and the stigma that surrounds such contamination, are relevant to determining the property’s fair market value for tax assessment purposes.
Harley-Davison owns a 229-acre parcel of industrial property in York County, where it operates a motorcycle manufacturing plant. Historically, the property was owned by the U.S. Navy, which operated a weapons manufacturing plant at the site from 1941-1964, which Harley-Davidson’s affiliate then operated from the late 1960s through the 1980s. The military use of the property caused widespread environmental contamination on 110 acres of the property, including the burial of unexploded artillery on site. The remaining 119 acres of the property that were not impacted by historic operations were considered “excess” land. Under a settlement agreement with the United States, Harley-Davidson has been remediating the property under Pennsylvania’s Act 2 program, funded, in part, by the U.S. government, which paid $2.3 million for past remediation costs. Both parties also agreed to establish a remediation trust fund to split future remediation costs at the site.