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FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH TURTLE CREEK v. REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ALLEGHENY COUNTY (08/13/74)

decided: August 13, 1974.

FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF TURTLE CREEK, APPELLANT,
v.
REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF ALLEGHENY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of First Christian Church of Turtle Creek v. Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, No. 705 April Term, 1971.

COUNSEL

James M. Arensberg, with him Tucker, Arensberg & Ferguson, for appellant.

P. Ronald Cooper, with him William J. Fahey, for appellee.

Judges Kramer, Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Kramer.

Author: Kramer

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 10]

This is an appeal by the First Christian Church of Turtle Creek (Church) from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, dated July 3, 1973, denying a motion for a new trial.

On January 20, 1971, the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (Authority) filed a Declaration of Taking whereby it condemned certain property in the Borough of Turtle Creek which was owned by the Church. A Board of Viewers (Board) was appointed and a hearing was held on September 21, 1972. At the hearing before the Board, Messrs. William R. Jones and Leo B. Shapero (Shapero) were called as witnesses for the Church, and Mr. Clyde R. Watford (Watford)

[ 15 Pa. Commw. Page 11]

    testified for the Authority. On October 16, 1972, the Board filed its report which awarded compensation to the Church in the amount of $87,000.00.

On November 9, 1972, the Church filed an appeal from the Board's award. During the jury trial, held in April of 1973, the Church presented two valuation expert witnesses, Shapero and Daniel C. Smith, Jr. (Smith). The Authority presented one valuation expert witness, Watford. Prior to the trial, the Church served notice on the Authority that Smith would be testifying. Section 703(2) of the Eminent Domain Code (Code), Act of June 22, 1964, Sp. Sess., P.L. 84, as amended, 26 P.S. § 1-703(2) required that the Church notify the Authority because Smith had not testified at the proceedings before the Board.

Due to the unique use of the property, i.e., as a church, each of the experts utilized the valuation approach based on the value of the land plus the cost of reproducing the improvements, less depreciation. This approach is specifically permitted under Section 705 of the Code, 26 P.S. § 1-705(2)(iv). Watford, the Authority's expert, testified to a reproduction cost of $146,000.00, depreciation of 56% or $82,000.00, land value of $4,200.00 and a fair market value of $68,200.00.

In an effort to rebut Watford's testimony, the Church called William Neihaus (Neihaus), a contractor who specialized in building churches, to testify as to the reproduction cost of the church building. The trial court refused to permit Neihaus to testify as to a total reproduction cost figure or a specific per cubic foot figure. Neihaus, however, was permitted to testify that Watford's figure of 95 cents per cubic foot was not a reasonable statement of the reproduction cost. Neihaus would have testified that the reproduction cost of the church would ...


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