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Porter County Administration Center

The Porter County Administration Center in downtown Valparaiso.

The owners of the Misty Glen apartment complex in Hebron lost their downstate appeal of the assessment on the property.

The Indiana Board of Tax Review last week upheld the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals' 2015 decision not to continue the tax-exempt status for the five-building, 80-unit apartment complex at 99 Misty Lane.

Hebron Vision LLC, of Indianapolis, which owns the complex, argued that providing affordable housing and offering educational programs to tenants merits tax-exempt status.

But the state board said Hebron Vision failed to prove the property was “predominantly owned, occupied and used for charitable purposes.”

“Several other apartment complexes throughout the Region were watching to see how it turned out,” Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder said.

Misty Glen's assessed value is $2.67 million, give or take variations by year, Snyder said.

Michael Red, an Indianapolis attorney representing Misty Glen's owners, noted that the state board granted the apartment complex a tax exemption in 2009, “and nothing has changed, at least in our point of view,” in how the nonprofit organization and the complex are operated.

“So yeah, that’s unusual. Obviously, we would like to see more clarity in this law,” Red said.

Regardless of this ruling, or a potential appeal to the Indiana Tax Court, "Vision Communities Inc. is very happy to serve people of need in Porter County," he said.

This ruling has been a long time coming. The hearing was in early 2017.

Attorney John Bushemi expected it would be a one-day hearing, Snyder said, and was surprised when the state board’s hearing officer announced it would resume the following day. Bushemi objected, saying he and Snyder didn’t even have clothes packed for the next day, but to no avail.

“I went and did a little suit shopping at Carson Pirie & Scott,” Snyder said.

The board’s ruling noted Misty Glen retains “typical” landlord rights: “tenants can be evicted if they failed to pay their rent, charges can be applied for late rent payments, an initial ‘application screening’ is conducted to determine if tenants had adequate credit, and tenants must prove they have had no prior evictions.”

During the years for which Misty Glen’s owners sought tax exemption, four tenants were evicted for not paying rent.

“Clearly, Misty Glen is using shrewd business skills in selecting tenants,” the ruling said. “But this also indicates that Misty Glen is not selecting tenants who are in most need of charitable housing or who have difficulties finding housing due to prior evictions or bad credit.”

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.