Appeal, No. 293, Jan. T., 1963, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 7 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1956, No. 9718, in case of The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People v. City of Philadelphia. Judgment reversed; reargument refused February 19, 1964.
Emanuel Friedman, for appellant.
Matthew W. Bullock, Jr., Deputy City Solicitor, with him Augustus R. Sigismondi, Assistant City Solicitor, James L. Stern, Second Deputy City Solicitor, and Edward G. Bauer, Jr., City Solicitor, for City of Philadelphia, appellee.
Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO
The plaintiffs in this case, The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People, owned, prior to April 14, 1954, some 71 acres of land fronting on Byberry Street and along Poquessing Creek, in the county of Philadelphia. On that date the City of Philadelphia by appropriate ordinance condemned 11.216 acres of the tract for the purpose of laying an intercepting or collecting sewer through the property. A board of view, made up of three competent, professional real estate men, appointed by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, examined the land, studied the plans, took testimony and arrived at the conclusion that the installation of the described intercepting sewer damaged the value of the plaintiffs' property to the extent of $23,094. The City appealed from this award to the court of common pleas, at which time, it declared in answering the plaintiffs' complaint, that the damages suffered by the plaintiffs in this project amounted to $5600. During the trial it amended its
answer, averring that the plaintiffs were not entitled to any damages.
At the termination of the trial the jury returned a verdict for the defendant city and the plaintiffs have appealed, asking for a new trial. The new trial must be granted.
The defendant's only witness as to value of the property before and after the taking was a real estate appraiser Samuel Beck who testified that the plaintiffs suffered no damage through the taking but, on the contrary, the value of the property had augmented $48,400 because of the sewer laid therein. The reason he gave for this enhancement in market value was that the sewer "is available to this land because the sewer is available to it as soon as it is installed."
He was of the impression, and so stated, that the owner of land which accommodates a sewer line has an advantage over a landlord of land which is not contiguous to a sewer line in that the former may develop and exploit his land at once. The strange thing about the final disposition of this case in the court below is that not only was Mr. Beck's conclusion in error but that his brother witnesses for the defendant city, testified exactly to the contrary.
James F. Dillon, assistant engineer in the Project Control Division of the Philadelphia Water Department, testified that the owner of a property equipped with an interceptor sewer may not of his own volition connect up pipes with that sewer. He was asked by City counsel to repeat what he had said about the requirements for connecting into a collecting sewer, and he replied: "First of all, the plans must be approved by the City Planning Commission. An official city plan would be made showing the official grade or the final grade, the width of the ...