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SNYDER v. COMMONWEALTH (07/15/63)

July 15, 1963

SNYDER
v.
COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 13 and 14, March T., 1963, from judgments of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, July T., 1960, Nos. 306 and 1148, in case of George Cardner Snyder and Edward James Boone v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Judgments affirmed; reargument refused August 2, 1963.

COUNSEL

Thomas J. Dempsey, Special Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert W. Cunliffe, Assistant Attorney General, John R. Rezzolla, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, and Walter E. Alessandroni, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

T. Robert Brennan, with him Brennan and Brennan, for appellees.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Roberts

[ 412 Pa. Page 17]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS

In August, 1958, the Commonwealth, by condemnation for construction of a limited access highway, took all of appellees' land (3 acres) located in the Borough of Churchill, Allegheny County. The property, acquired by appellees in 1950, lay between almost parallel highways, with frontage of 370 feet on the William

[ 412 Pa. Page 18]

Penn Highway Route 22, a major artery connecting Pittsburgh with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and frontage of 365 feet on the Northern Pike (Old Route 22). Of the tract, 1.3 acres was within the right-of-way lines of the highways and subject to an easement in the public. The remaining portion was undeveloped. The board of view awarded appellees $12,745.37.Both sides appealed to the court of common pleas where the jury returned a verdict of $40,000 plus detention money of $7,400. The Commonwealth's motions for judgment n.o.v. or new trial were denied by the court en banc.

At the time of condemnation, the property was restricted by a borough zoning ordinance to residential use. Appellees' real estate expert testified at trial that in adjacent and nearby municipalities, all the property along both sides of Route 22 had been zoned commercial and that rapid commercial and institutional development was taking place. However, in Churchill Borough, the only change made prior to this condemnation was a rezoning of an area along Route 22 for institutional purposes to permit construction by Westinghouse of a research and development plant.*fn1 He further testified that there was a scarcity of land for commercial use in the area and valued the property in question as of the date of the taking at $72,000. The Commonwealth's expert valued the property at $8,500.

The Commonwealth contends first that, the property being zoned solely for residential use, it was improper to permit the introduction of evidence of value for a presently unavailable use without proof of the reasonable likelihood of a zoning change in the near future, and that such proof was not presented.

The general rule is that evidence of increased value is inadmissible where the ...


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