Published September 9, 2022

Abatement Denied, Fairness Questioned

Council Votes to Deny Abatement Request

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
The Minot city council voted Tuesday to deny a tax abatement request, leaving some to question the fairness of the decision. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)
The Minot city council voted Tuesday to deny a tax abatement request, leaving some to question the fairness of the decision. (Photo: Lydia Hoverson/The Dakotan)

Council Votes to Deny Abatement Request


MINOT – A request for a tax abatement was denied by the Minot city council and fairness was questioned.

The Minot city council voted Tuesday to deny a tax refund or abatement requested by HL Development, LLC for two vacant lots located near the new Trinity Health campus south of town. The abatement was requested for the years 2020 and 2021.

Ryan Kamrowski, Minot city assessor, said these lots do not meet the requirements of the North Dakota Century Code to be assessed as agricultural land and were therefore assessed as commercial.

“We are evaluating these properties at a dollar fifty per square foot, making those adjustments based on the use and the excessive drainage that is associated with these properties,” said Kamrowski.

“The one point that the applicants made which bothers me a little bit, I want to have you respond, is that they’re saying the land is cropped right now,” said Alderman Stephan Podrygula. “It clearly has an agricultural usage.”

Kamrowski said the lots met four of the seven criteria to not be classified as agricultural, including the fact that it was platted after 1981, it has public improvements such as streets, water and sewer, the property is zoned other than agricultural, and the property was part of a multi-parcel transaction in 2017 for 380 acres that sold for $9 million, which he said was 51 times the county assessed value.

Jessica Merchant, attorney representing HL Development, said she and the company strongly dispute one of the four criteria, that being subsection 2, public improvement.  

“This was the issue that was part of the 2020 abatement, wherein the county commission did agree with us and indicated that an abatement would be appropriate,” said Merchant. “They changed the value on lot 9 from $1,174,000 to $132,000. They changed the value on lot 10 from $1,035,000 to $193,000. There was an in-depth discussion about what was available specifically to the property.”

Merchant agreed that there is a street running by these lots, as 37th Avenue is running along the two lots, but said the property has been solely used for agricultural purposes.

“The discussion from the county commission at the time was to reassess when these particular parcels were actually having water and sewer to the property instead of just running along the right-of-way,” said Merchant. “This was the argument, that at some point if it were sold for commercial purposes, certainly a reassessment would be necessary, and a higher value would be attributable.”

Alderman Roscoe Streyle said he wonders why the land south of the Minot Family YMCA is assessed as agricultural and not commercial.

“There’s clearly infrastructure there, clearly development potential there,” said Streyle. “Let’s treat all the property the same. Let’s make a motion to make all of south of the Y, that whole chunk there, which is agricultural, let’s make that commercial then too. Let’s treat people fairly here instead of unfairly like we are now.”

Kamrowski said many of the parcels south of the YMCA are under county jurisdiction, but the one that is under city jurisdiction did not meet four of the criteria to be assessed as commercial.

The council voted to deny the abatement request, with only Streyle voting no.

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