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CONDEMNATION BY PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION 79.42 ACRES LAND JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP (12/31/70)

decided: December 31, 1970.

IN RE: CONDEMNATION BY THE PENNSYLVANIA TURNPIKE COMMISSION OF 79.42 ACRES OF LAND IN JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, SOMERSET COUNTY AND IN COOK AND DONEGAL TOWNSHIPS, WESTMORELAND COUNTY, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA IN FEE SIMPLE, TOGETHER WITH 0.61 ACRE IN EASEMENT


Appeal from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County, Civil Division, No. 1097 C.D., 1965, in case of In re: Condemnation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission of 79.42 acres of land in Jefferson Township, Somerset County and in Cook and Donegal Townships, Westmoreland County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Fee Simple, together with 0.61 acre in easement. Appeal transferred September 14, 1970, to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

COUNSEL

Simon K. Uhl, Local Counsel, with him George H. Shaffer, Assistant Counsel, Jay R. Braderman, Assistant General Counsel, and John R. Rezzolla, Counsel, for appellant Turnpike Commission.

Albert M. Nichols, with him John F. Dent and Irving L. Bloom, for appellees.

President Judge Bowman, and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer, Wilkinson, Jr., Manderino, Mencer and Barbieri. Opinion by Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 1 Pa. Commw. Page 68]

On June 5, 1962, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, exercising its authority of eminent domain, condemned, inter alia, 80.03 acres of land in a swath through 4,300 acres of land owned by members of the D. Hall Blair family.*fn1 The condemnation, for the Laurel Hill Tunnel by-pass of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, completely severed the Blairs' land into two unconnected tracts*fn2 of 1,600 acres and 2,620 acres. A Board of View appointed on the Commission's petition awarded damages in the amount of $60,000. The Blairs'

[ 1 Pa. Commw. Page 69]

    appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County was heard by Judge Lansberry without a jury. The appeal resulted in an award of $196,000. The Commission has now appealed from the denial of its exceptions and request for a new trial.

It is for us to decide: (1) Was there sufficient evidence to support the court's finding that the highest and best use of the condemned land was recreational and residential and, (2) whether the court in valuing the condemned land in connection with recreational use, erroneously considered land not owned by the condemnees as being a necessary part of the valued land. We conclude that the court did not err in determining either issue.

The market value of condemned property need not be measured in terms of the existing use of that land. Instead, "the market value of a piece of property may reflect one of a number of possible uses to which the land has not been put at the time of condemnation. 'If these uses . . . would occur to the average buyer and influence him, they must enter directly into the market value of the land regardless of the uses to which the owner has theretofore applied the land.' Savings & Trust Company of Indiana v. Pennsylvania R.R. Co., 229 Pa. 484, 488, 78 Atl. 1039 (1911)." Stoner v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 439 Pa. 333, 337 A.2d (1970).

Recovery based upon a nonexisting use, however, may not be based upon "remote chances or future possibilities." Stoner v. Metropolitan Edison Co., supra; Gilleland v. N.Y. State Natural Gas Corp., 399 Pa. 181, 159 A.2d 673 (1960). "To prove a highest and best use the condemnee must establish that the land in question is physically adaptable to such use and that there is a need for such use in the area which is reflected in the market for the property at the time of the condemnation.

[ 1 Pa. Commw. Page 70]

Shillito v. Metropolitan Edison Co., 434 Pa. 172, 252 A.2d 650 (1969); Pa. Gas & Water Co. v. Pa. Turnpike Comm., 428 Pa. 74, 236 A.2d 112 (1967); and A. D. Graham & Company, Inc. v. Pa. Turnpike Comm., 347 Pa. 622, 33 A.2d 22 (1943)." Stoner v. Metropolitan Edison Co., supra at 338. "[T]he manner of establishing this need is by demonstrating that a demand for it exists in the public ...


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