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REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY CITY WILKES-BARRE v. A. P. SANTUCCI (07/21/75)

decided: July 21, 1975.

REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF WILKES-BARRE, APPELLANT,
v.
A. P. SANTUCCI, TRADING AS SANTUCCI PRODUCE, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, in case of City of Wilkes-Barre, Owner, and A. P. Santucci, Trading as Santucci Produce, Lessee; or any Other Person or Persons Found to Have an Interest in the Property, Plaintiffs, v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Wilkes-Barre, Defendant, No. 1237 July Term, 1971.

COUNSEL

Donald D. McFadden, with him Flanagan, Doran, Biscontini & Shaffer, for appellants.

Gifford Cappellini, with him Cardoni, Coslett, Cappellini, Sobota & Piccone, for appellee.

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

Author: Crumlish

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 377]

This condemnation case raises two issues under Section 601-A of the Eminent Domain Code (Code), Act of June 22, 1964, Special Sess., P.L. 84, as amended, 26 P.S. § 1-601A (Supp. 1974-1975):

1) May a tenant recover 40 times the fair monthly rental value of his lease as business dislocation damages under Section 601-A(b)(3) when the amount of his actual monthly rental is undisputed?

2) May storage costs be awarded as reasonable removal expenses under Section 601-A(a)?

On August 16, 1971, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Wilkes-Barre (Condemnor) filed a declaration of taking condemning any interest held by A. P. Santucci, trading as Santucci Produce (Condemnee) as the lessee of property located under the four spans of the South Street Bridge in Wilkes-Barre. Condemnee operated a wholesale produce business on the property under a lease from the City of Wilkes-Barre since 1957. It is undisputed that as of August 16, 1971 the monthly rent

[ 20 Pa. Commw. Page 378]

    paid by Condemnee to the City for this leasehold interest was $25.00, and that, as a result of the condemnation Condemnee was forced to relocate his business resulting in a substantial loss of existing patronage. He also incurred considerable storage expenses in the relocation process. The Board of View awarded $4,000.00 for Condemnee's leasehold interest and $2,290.00 for removal expenses under Section 608 of the Code.*fn1 Condemnor appealed this award to the court below which, sitting as a jury, returned a total verdict of $19,200.00 on September 29, 1972. Condemnor's motion for a new trial was dismissed, and this appeal followed.

We are here concerned only with two portions of the lower court's verdict: the award of $10,000.00 in business dislocation damages; and $3,700.00 in storage expenses under the provisions of Section 601-A(b)(3) and 601-(A)(a), 26 P.S. §§ 1-601A(b)(3) and 1-601A(a), respectively.*fn2 Section 601-A(b)(3) provides, in pertinent part, for business dislocation "damages of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) nor less than twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500.00), in an amount equal to either (i) forty times the actual monthly rental, in the case of a tenant, or forty times the fair monthly rental value, in the case of owner occupancy ; or (ii) the average annual net earnings, whichever is greater." (Emphasis supplied.) The trial court awarded the maximum amount provided by Section 601-A(b)(3) based upon an estimate of the fair monthly rental value of the ...


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