Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County in case of Re: Taking in Eminent Domain of certain parcels of real estate by the City of Easton, Pennsylvania, Constanza (Owner), 641, 643, 645 and 647 Walnut Street, No. 1983-CM-6044.
Herbert V. Giobbi, Ziev, Giobbi & McFadden, for appellant.
Richard J. Shiroff, for appellee.
Judges Doyle and Palladino, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish. Concurring Opinion by Judge Doyle.
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 496]
The City of Easton (Condemnor) appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County which denied its post-trial motion requesting a new trial, and affirmed the court's earlier verdict awarding compensation to Salvatore Constanza (Condemnee) for the condemnation of his property. We vacate and remand.
In this non-jury eminent domain proceeding concerning Condemnee's property located at 641, 643, 645 and 647 Walnut Street, the trial court entered its verdict in favor of Condemnee, and awarded a total of $22,000 as just compensation. After fixing the amount of compensation, the trial court, in its verdict, added the following: "This sum is the amount of just compensation for the property disregarding the physical deterioration of the improvements because of the imminence of condemnation."
[ 97 Pa. Commw. Page 497]
The Condemnor contends that the trial court erred in not allowing testimony regarding the imminence of condemnation and the demolition costs. Our scope of review, where there is an appeal from an order denying a new trial, is limited to a determination of whether the trial court was guilty of a manifest abuse of discretion or an error of law. Borough of Tamaqua v. Knepper, 54 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 630, 422 A.2d 1199 (1980).
It is a fundamental principle of eminent domain law that fair market value for damages is determined as of the date of condemnation. Frontage, Inc. v. Allegheny County, 400 Pa. 249, 162 A.2d 1 (1960). Recognizing that the period of time between planning and actual condemnation, while not sufficient to establish a condemnation, may affect market value, the Eminent Domain Code provides for such a contingency:
Any change in the fair market value prior to the date of condemnation which the condemnor or condemnee establishes was substantially due to the general knowledge of the imminence of condemnation, other than that due to physical deterioration of the property within the reasonable control of the condemnee, shall be disregarded in determining fair market value.
Section 604 of the Eminent Domain Code, Act of June 22, 1964, Special Sess., P.L. 84, as amended, 26 P.S. § 1-604.
Thus, if there is a physical deterioration of the property within the reasonable control of the Condemnee, even though there is the imminence of condemnation, Section 604 does not change the prior law. The Condemnee must exercise his responsibility as an owner and keep his property in reasonable repair. If he does so, but nevertheless his property is vandalized or otherwise wrecked, he is ...