972 S.W.2d 407 (Mo.App. W.D. 1998), WD 54099, City of Kansas City v. Hon

Docket NºWD 54099.
Citation972 S.W.2d 407
Party NameCITY OF KANSAS CITY, Missouri, Appellant, v. Stephen HON, et al., Respondent, Unborn and Unknown Heirs, Respondents.
Case DateApril 21, 1998
CourtCourt of Appeals of Missouri

Page 407

972 S.W.2d 407 (Mo.App. W.D. 1998)

CITY OF KANSAS CITY, Missouri, Appellant,

v.

Stephen HON, et al., Respondent,

Unborn and Unknown Heirs, Respondents.

No. WD 54099.

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District.

April 21, 1998

Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied June 2, 1998. Application for Transfer Denied Aug. 25, 1998.

Page 408

Walter J. O'Toole, Acting City Atty., Dorothy L. Campbell, Asst. City Atty., Kansas City, for appellant.

Jerome E. Brant, Steven D. Wolcott, Liberty, Quint Shafer, Weston, for respondents.

Before LAURA DENVIR STITH, P.J., and HANNA and RIEDERER, JJ.

LAURA DENVIR STITH, Presiding Judge.

The City of Kansas City, Missouri, appeals the trial court's denial of its Petition seeking to condemn eight tracts of land in Platte County for the purpose of expanding Kansas

Page 409

City International Airport. We find that the trial court erred in its determination that the condemnation was neither for a public use nor necessary to effectuate that use. Therefore, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings in condemnation consistent with this opinion.

  1. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

    On October 5, 1995, the City Council of the City of Kansas City, Missouri, passed Ordinance No. 951275. The ordinance declared it was necessary for the city to acquire, by either purchase or condemnation, fee simple title to eight tracts of land in Platte County for the purpose of expanding Kansas City International Airport (KCI). Three of these tracts, designated as Tracts 101, 102E, and 102W, are completely within the city limits of Kansas City, Missouri. The remaining five tracts, designated as Tracts 116, 123, 124, 125, and 133A, are partially within the city limits and partially outside the city limits of Kansas City, Missouri (the City).

    Attempts by the City to purchase the eight tracts from their owners were unsuccessful. On July 1, 1996, the City, therefore, filed a Petition in Condemnation seeking to condemn these eight tracts through use of the power of eminent domain. The owners of the eight tracts (Respondents) opposed the proposed condemnation. The circuit court held a hearing on September 16, 1996. On February 7, 1997, the trial court entered judgment against the City, denying condemnation of all eight tracts of land. This appeal by the City followed.

  2. STANDARD OF REVIEW

    This Court will reverse the trial court's decision in a court-tried case such as this if the decision is not supported by substantial evidence, is against the weight of the evidence, or erroneously declares or applies the law. Murphy v. Carron, 536 S.W.2d 30, 32 (Mo. banc 1976). We defer to the trial court's findings of fact where the evidence is conflicting, but not to its determinations of law. Id.; Osborn v. Home Ins. Co., 914 S.W.2d 35, 37 (Mo.App.1996).

  3. PRINCIPLES GOVERNING EMINENT DOMAIN AND CONDEMNATION

    The power of eminent domain is the inherent power of a State to take private property. The power of eminent domain extends only to the taking of property for a public use, except in two specific instances which are not relevant here. 1 Eminent domain cannot be used by the State to involuntarily take private property for private use. Mo. Const. art. I, § 28; State ex rel. Missouri Cities Water Co. v. Hodge, 878 S.W.2d 819, 820 (Mo. banc 1994); Osage Water Co. v. Miller County Water Authority, Inc., 950 S.W.2d 569 (Mo.App.1997). Moreover, the Missouri Constitution provides that such "property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation." Mo. Const. art. I, § 26.

    The burden is on the party seeking condemnation to prove both that the condemnation is for a public purpose and that it is a matter of public necessity. Both findings are jurisdictional prerequisites to condemnation. 2 State ex rel. State Highway Comm'n v. Curtis, 359 Mo. 402, 222 S.W.2d 64, 68 (1949); State ex rel. Missouri Highway and Transp. Comm'n v. Perigo, 886 S.W.2d 149, 152 (Mo.App.1994); Mo. Condemnation Practice, § 2.2 (Mobar 2d ed.1993). Both prerequisites must be satisfied separately.

    Here, the power of eminent domain was exercised not by the State but by the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The power of eminent domain does not inherently belong to municipalities, but the State may delegate this authority to cities or other public and private entities, subject to constitutional limitations.

    Page 410

    Missouri Cities, 878 S.W.2d at 820-21; Osage, 950 S.W.2d at 572.

    The Legislature has specifically delegated the power of eminent domain to cities to acquire property to "establish, construct, own, control, lease, equip, improve, maintain, operate, and regulate, in whole or in part, alone or jointly or concurrently with others, airports or landing fields for the use of airplanes and other aircraft." §§ 305.170, 305.180 RSMo 1994. It has also specifically determined that condemnation for this purpose constitutes a public use and is a matter of public necessity, stating: "Any lands acquired, owned, controlled or occupied by such cities, villages, towns or counties for the purposes enumerated in sections 305.170 and 305.180 hereof shall and are hereby declared to be acquired, owned, controlled, and occupied for a public purpose and as a matter of public necessity." § 305.190 RSMo 1994.

    The issue here is whether the circuit court erred in determining that the condemnation of the eight tracts at issue in this case was not for a public purpose and was not a matter of public necessity. For the reasons set forth below, we determine that the circuit court erred in its determination of both issues.

  4. CONDEMNATION FOR AVIATION-RELATED PURPOSES CONSTITUTES A PUBLIC PURPOSE

    Appellant City argues that the condemnation was for a public purpose. In support, it notes that the legislature specifically determined in Section 305.190, quoted above, that condemnation for the purpose of an airport use is condemnation for a public purpose. Respondents counter that the legislature's finding that condemnation for airport-related purposes is a public purpose is of no import, for the Missouri Constitution requires that the courts make an independent determination of whether a condemnation is for a public use or purpose. 3

    The Missouri Constitution does make the determination of whether a use is a public use a question for judicial rather than legislative determination. It specifically states that "[w]hen an attempt is made to take private property for a use alleged to be public, the question of whether the contemplated use be public shall be judicially determined without regard to any legislative declaration that the use is public." Mo. Const. art. I, § 28. We, therefore, agree with Respondents that we, like the trial court, are required to make an independent determination whether the use at issue here is a public use.

    In so determining, neither the trial court nor this Court can give deference to the general legislative declaration in Section 305.190 that airport uses are public uses. Arata v. Monsanto Chemical Co., 351 S.W.2d 717, 721 (Mo.1961); Perigo, 886 S.W.2d at 152. Rather, the courts must consider the evidence presented at the hearing on the condemnation to...

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  • 232 S.W.3d 648 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007), 28206, Pepsi Midamerica v. Harris
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • September 7, 2007
    ...(quoting Schaefer, 965 S.W.2d at 956). This Court does not defer to the trial court's determinations of law. City of Kansas City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo.App.1998). Here, no request for findings of fact or conclusions of law was made by the parties and the court made neither. Nor is ......
  • 451 S.W.3d 724 (Mo.App. W.D. 2014), WD76861, City of Kansas City v. Powell
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • October 7, 2014
    ...domain. " The power of eminent domain is the inherent power of a State to take private property." City of Kansas City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998). Our constitution limits this power by providing that " private property shall not be taken or damaged for pu......
  • 224 S.W.3d 39 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007), 27595, State Resources Corp. v. Lawyers Title Ins. Corp.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • February 27, 2007
    ...to the trial court's findings of fact, the Court does not defer to the trial court's determinations of law. City of Kansas City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo.App. 1998). Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the judgment, Barrows v. Firstar Bank, 103 S.W.3d 386, 390 (Mo.App. 2......
  • 171 S.W.3d 81 (Mo.App. S.D. 2005), 26456, Jerry Bennett Masonry, Inc. v. Crossland Construction Co., Inc.,
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • July 28, 2005
    ...to the trial court's findings of fact, the court does not defer to the trial court's determinations of law. City of Kansas City v. Hon , 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo.App. 1998). " 'Substantial evidence is that which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • 232 S.W.3d 648 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007), 28206, Pepsi Midamerica v. Harris
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • September 7, 2007
    ...(quoting Schaefer, 965 S.W.2d at 956). This Court does not defer to the trial court's determinations of law. City of Kansas City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo.App.1998). Here, no request for findings of fact or conclusions of law was made by the parties and the court made neither. Nor is ......
  • 451 S.W.3d 724 (Mo.App. W.D. 2014), WD76861, City of Kansas City v. Powell
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • October 7, 2014
    ...domain. " The power of eminent domain is the inherent power of a State to take private property." City of Kansas City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998). Our constitution limits this power by providing that " private property shall not be taken or damaged for pu......
  • 224 S.W.3d 39 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007), 27595, State Resources Corp. v. Lawyers Title Ins. Corp.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • February 27, 2007
    ...to the trial court's findings of fact, the Court does not defer to the trial court's determinations of law. City of Kansas City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo.App. 1998). Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the judgment, Barrows v. Firstar Bank, 103 S.W.3d 386, 390 (Mo.App. 2......
  • 171 S.W.3d 81 (Mo.App. S.D. 2005), 26456, Jerry Bennett Masonry, Inc. v. Crossland Construction Co., Inc.,
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals of Missouri
    • July 28, 2005
    ...to the trial court's findings of fact, the court does not defer to the trial court's determinations of law. City of Kansas City v. Hon , 972 S.W.2d 407, 409 (Mo.App. 1998). " 'Substantial evidence is that which, if true, has probative force upon the issues, and from which the trier of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Takings care of business: using eminent domain for solely economic development purposes.
    • United States
    • Missouri Law Review Vol. 79 Nbr. 3, June - June 2014
    • June 22, 2014
    ...Carol J. Miller, Eminent Domain--Missouri's Response to Kelo, 63 J. Mo. B. 178, 182 (2007). (89.) Id. (90.) City of Kan. City v. Hon, 972 S.W.2d 407, 414 (Mo. Ct. App. (91.) Dale A. Whitman, Eminent Domain Reform in Missouri: A Legislative Memoir, 71 Mo. L. Rev. 721,727 (2006). (92.) Id. (9......