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County of Cook v. La Salle Nat. Bk.

SEPTEMBER 10, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD R. FINNEGAN, Judge, presiding.


Petitioner brought an eminent domain proceeding to acquire certain land of defendants. The property sought to be taken consists of a one-foot strip of land along the frontage of 13 lots abutting on Sibley Boulevard in Harvey. The purpose of taking the one-foot strip was to eliminate access from the lots to Sibley Boulevard. The jury awarded defendants $25,165 for the property taken and for damages to the remainder. Petitioner appeals, contending that the award was excessive due to an improper method of valuation by defendants' valuation witnesses, and that the court erred in failing to strike this testimony.

All of the lots in question are held in two trusts by the La Salle National Bank for the same beneficial owner. The lots are in two blocks fronting on the south side of Sibley Boulevard. One group of four adjacent lots (Parcel 1 for our identification) lies immediately west of Artesian Avenue. To the east, in the block between Artesian and Western, there are two groups of lots separated by one lot under different ownership. Immediately east of Artesian lies one group of five adjacent lots (Parcel 2 for our identification) and, beyond the one intervening lot, lies a group of four adjacent lots (Parcel 3 for our identification) extending to Western Avenue.

Petitioner, for administrative purposes, designated the 13 lots as consisting of five parcels instead of three, as above described. The parcels we have described as 2 and 3, above, are the same. As to the four adjacent lots in Parcel 1, however, Petitioner designated each of the two westernmost lots as separate parcels, and lumped together the two lots closest to Artesian as still another parcel.

At the trial, defendants treated their property as consisting of three parcels, as we have identified them above (though without number reference). The only difference, therefore, in the parcel designation of the parties is that Petitioner, administratively, divided the four adjacent lots of Parcel 1 into three separate parcels.

• 1 Petitioner's position at trial, and in its original brief in this court, was that any appraisal of the value of the property must be made on the basis of the five parcels as administratively determined by it, citing the Eminent Domain Act, Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 47, par. 5, in part:

"Any number of separate parcels of property, situate in the same county, may be included in one petition, and the compensation for each shall be assessed separately by the same or different juries, as the court or judge may direct."

Petitioner abandoned this contention in its reply brief, and argued that defendants' valuation witnesses erroneously appraised the 13 lots as one unit, rather than as three separate parcels. Both parties recognize the established rule that land must be under common ownership and contiguous to be considered a parcel for valuation purposes. Bowman v. Venice & Carondelet Ry. Co., 102 Ill. 459, 465; White v. West Side Elevated R.R. Co., 154 Ill. 620, 625-26.

The valuation testimony offered by Petitioner shows no basis for the appraisal other than the division of the lots into the five administratively designated parcels previously mentioned. Petitioner's valuation witness, Gilbert Glenn, an appraiser, testified to a figure representing the value of the part of each of the five parcels actually taken, and the damages to the remainder, totaling $5,321. In making his appraisal, he valued the property on the basis of its use for residential purposes, while admitting that the entire property was zoned commercial. He also testified that his appraisal had been made two and a half years prior to his testimony; that he had not been familiar with land sales in Harvey during the previous two years; and that he had not acted as a broker or developer in Harvey in the previous 10 years.

Defendants' first valuation witness, Robert Kane, was a real estate broker and appraiser who served on the Harvey Zoning Board for seven years, and in the previous ten years had bought and sold some 800 to 850 properties within three miles of the property in question. He had done appraisal work for Petitioner, among many others. His testimony included the following:

"The property that is the subject of this lawsuit is thirteen lots facing Sibley Boulevard, between, as I said, Western, Artesian and Campbell.

Running west from Western Avenue there is one parcel 199.23 feet in width frontage and then there is a vacant lot and then there is another parcel which is 123.78 foot frontage.

And then the other side of Artesian there are four lots broken up into three parcels, one of 57 feet and the other each of 25 foot but they are contiguous. There is a hundred foot contiguous frontage there. So you have approximately a block and a half of property excepting the one 25 foot lot that is missing." Emphasis supplied.

He then gave a total figure of $33,950 for the value of the part taken and damage to the remainder of the 13 lots. He explained that the damage resulted from the loss of access to Sibley Boulevard, leaving the inside lots with access to an alley ...

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