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JOHN L. BAKER AND NANCY BAKER v. COUNTY ALLEGHENY (03/10/80)

decided: March 10, 1980.

JOHN L. BAKER AND NANCY BAKER, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS
v.
COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, APPELLEE. COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, APPELLANT V. JOHN L. BAKER AND NANCY BAKER, HIS WIFE, APPELLEES



Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in case of John L. Baker and Nancy Baker, his wife v. County of Allegheny, No. 1589 July Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

Leonard M. Mendelson, of Hollinshead and Mendelson, for condemnees.

Shelden L. Keyser, Assistant County Solicitor, with him Alexander J. Jaffurs, County Solicitor, for condemnor.

Judges Crumlish, Jr., Rogers and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. President Judge Bowman did not participate in the decision in this case. Judge DiSalle did not participate in the decision in this case. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Macphail

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 641]

John L. Baker and Nancy Baker, husband and wife (Appellants), were the owners in fee simple of

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 642]

    a tract of land in Allegheny County. Appellants occupied and used said property for a residence and for the operation of an art studio business and a farm on which they raised and kept cattle and horses and grew feed hay for their stock. The County of Allegheny (County) acquired Appellants' property for public purposes on February 5, 1971 for the sum of $108,000. On or about February 19, 1971, Appellants purchased a replacement property in Washington County for which they paid $100,000 in cash ($90,000 for realty and $10,000 for personalty). Shortly afterwards, Appellants moved onto said property to reside and carry on the same business operations as formerly conducted on their old property.

This is an appeal by Appellants from an order of the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County dismissing exceptions filed by both parties to a non-jury verdict in favor of Appellants in the sum of $20,000 for business location damages*fn1 to two businesses and $2,100 for search expense.*fn2

Our scope of review in a condemnation case is limited to a determination of "whether the lower court abused its discretion, whether an error of law was committed, or whether the findings and conclusions are supported by sufficient evidence." Commerce Land Corporation v. Department of Transportation, 34 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 356, 383 A.2d 1289 (1978). "It is fundamental that the findings of fact of the lower court will not be disturbed if they are based upon substantial evidence." Greger v. Canton Township, 41 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 20, 24, 399 A.2d 138, 140 (1979).

[ 49 Pa. Commw. Page 643]

First, the Appellants contend that they are entitled to the benefit of three, rather than two, separate dislocation claims under Section 601A(b)(3) of the Code. The trial court has found that the Appellants operated two businesses on their property; one consisted of the selling of art work and the designing of sculptures conducted in a studio, and the other consisted of a combination horse ranch, tack selling, cattle raising and hay growing operation. The trial court held that under Section 601A(b)(3) of the Code, Appellants were entitled to the maximum amount of damages of $10,000 for each of those two businesses because they were both relocated with a substantial loss of existing patronage.

Appellants appeal to us that the raising, selling, and renting of riding horses and the selling of tack constitute one business and that the growing of hay and the raising of a dozen or so cattle comprise a separate farm business for which separate dislocation damages of $10,000 should have been awarded. We affirm the trial court's finding that Appellants' farm operation is merely a component of the horse business and that it is not, therefore, entitled to a separate consideration for the award of dislocation damages. This finding by the trial court is based on substantial evidence. The Attorney General's Rules and ...


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