Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County in the case of In Re: Condemnation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation of right of way for Legislative Route 1045, Section 2, a limited access highway and Legislative Route 48118, Section 1, a free access highway in the Township of Lower Saucon; Lawrence A. Becker and Margaret G. Becker, husband and wife v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, No. 1985-CM-2620.
John V. Rovinsky, Assistant Counsel, with him, John L. Heaton, Chief Counsel, for appellant.
John W. Ashley, with him, Charles J. Fonzone, Fonzone and Ashley, for appellees.
Judge Smith, and Senior Judges Kalish and Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish. Judge Smith dissents.
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 622]
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), appeals an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County which denied DOT's motion for a new trial in this condemnation case. We affirm.
Lawrence A. Becker and Margaret G. Becker (Beckers) owned a 10.7 acre tract of land. For the purpose of constructing Route I-78, DOT condemned 7.7 acres of this tract. The property consisted of an old stone farm-house, which was built in 1813 and modernized by the Beckers, and a heated building used to house Mr. Becker's tools and equipment. The remainder of the land was recorded on a plan for subdivision purposes.
DOT paid the Beckers $100,000 as estimated just compensation and took possession of the property. The Beckers physically moved their house to a nearby lot and sold it about a year and a half later.
A Board of View (Board) was appointed to determine what, if any, additional compensation was due the Beckers. The Board rendered a decision in favor of the Beckers in the amount of $260,500. Both parties appealed to the court of common pleas.
At the trial de novo, the jury found the before value of the real estate to be $330,000 and the after value, $13,000. A verdict of $317,000 was entered for the Beckers.
DOT contends that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the testimony of the Becker's expert, Mr. Wayne Whitney. DOT alleges that Whitney violated the "unit" rule, and that he used sales that were not comparable. Finally, DOT contends that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence a subdivision plan and model and in permitting Mr. Becker to testify as to the condition of the residence when he bought it and the improvements and alterations he made.
[ 118 Pa. Commw. Page 623]
Our scope of review in eminent domain cases is to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion or committed an error of law. Captline v. County of Allegheny, 74 ...