Unpaid Taxes for a Road That was Never Built

To be up front: Archie Fleming owes some $130,000 in back taxes on Cadillac Heights, land that he says is “worthless.”

 

But he shouldn’t owe any more.

 

The Dallas Morning News found a Dallas Central Appraisal District map that is all wrong.

 

Fleming said when he bought the land he went to Dallas City Hall to get a permit to build, only to be told he couldn’t because it’s in the Trinity River floodplain. Fleming said he had no idea when he bought the property. He wound up having to rent a place nearby, and he couldn’t afford rent and taxes.

 

Fleming said that when he bought the land, city officials told him that one day a street would run past his property and intersect with Pontiac Avenue. Both streets remain unfinished dead-ends.

 

But here is the thing.

 

The Dallas Central Appraisal District’s map of the area shows Childs and Pontiac are long, finished streets that run directly past Fleming’s properties. That is why DCAD says Fleming’s land is worth about a dollar a square foot. Nearby properties that are hard to reach, like Fleming’s, are valued at about half that.

 

Cheryl Jordan, DCAD’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday that as far as the appraisal district’s concerned, Childs and Pontiac exist because the city says they’re there.

 

Then she said she looked at Google’s satellite view and, sure enough, no streets. Now everyone’s confused.

 

“But the legal definition is, it was platted and dedicated as a street,” she said. “They just haven’t come in and paved it.”

 

Fleming had never seen the map; he said he didn’t know to look for it.

 

Galceran said that many years ago, a developer re-platted those streets with the promise of paving them. Those plans were sent to the city’s Sustainable Development department, which passed them along to DCAD. At some point, Galceran said, the developer walked away from the project.

 

But nobody at City Hall told DCAD, which is why the map is still wrong — and Fleming’s two parcels are valued at around $52,000 and taxed at a combined $1,600 annually, according to the tax lawyers at Garza & Harris.

 

Fleming just wants to be able to use his land as he’s always intended.

 

“Would you pay taxes on something you can’t use or can’t sell?” he said. “That’s throwing money away. That’s my argument. Let me use it. Then I’ll pay taxes on it.”

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