TOPEKA (KSNT) – A Kansas court has ruled against the company that owns and operates Heartland Motorsports Park in its lawsuit against Shawnee County and its appraiser’s office over a years-long appraisal dispute.
On Friday, the Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed the Shawnee County District Court’s decision on summary judgment dismissing all claims presented in the case filed by Shelby Development, LLC appealing a judge’s decision to dismiss a 2019 lawsuit over the valuation of the race track.
Shelby Development purchased Heartland Park in December of 2014 for $2.4 million. Shawnee County later reappraised the property multiple times, eventually coming to a settlement agreement with Shelby Development to drop its original $10.4 million appraisal to $7.5 million for the 2017 tax year and to value the park at $8.9 million for the 2018 and 2019 tax years.
In May, the Shawnee County Commission, in a letter to the community, announced the race track stopped paying county taxes altogether in 2017 and has been delinquent about going through the appropriate steps to have the valuation reviewed.
Shelby Development sued the county for damages over its valuation, alleging two county appraisers coerced a third appraiser into improperly raising the valuation of Heartland Park. The defendants eventually moved for summary judgement, arguing Shelby Development had the opportunity to litigate the substance of its claims during the tax appeal proceeding but instead chose to settle.
In its ruling, the court wrote Shelby Development failed to exhaust its administrative remedies before resorting to the courts. However, it also found the district court erred when it waived Shelby Development’s claims that county appraisers acted unlawfully as a practical part of the settlement agreement.
Ultimately, the court found Shelby Development did not show it was damaged by any possible breach of contract and summary judgment on the claim was proper. 27 News asked both Shawnee County and Shelby Development to respond to this ruling.
In an email response, Shawnee County Counselor James Crowl wrote, “Because that case is still pending until all appeals are exhausted, we cannot comment further at this time.”
In a written statement posted to its Facebook page, Heartland Motorsports Park wrote in part, “Heartland Motorsports Park (Heartland) will host the last and final NHRA National Event in Topeka, Kansas on August 11th-13th, 2023. Regretfully, this is the end of NHRA National Events in Topeka. Shawnee County is succeeding in taxing Heartland out of business with their excessive land valuation and property taxes.”