City of St. Louis v. Brown

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtValliant
Citation56 S.W. 298,155 Mo. 545
PartiesCITY OF ST. LOUIS v. BROWN et al.
Decision Date30 March 1900
56 S.W. 298
155 Mo. 545
CITY OF ST. LOUIS
v.
BROWN et al.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 1.
March 30, 1900.

MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS—PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS —CONDEMNATION PROCEEDINGS — ASSESSMENT OF DAMAGES AND BENEFITS—EMINENT DOMAIN—APPEAL—REVIEW.

1. The action of the assembly and mayor of a municipal corporation in passing on the good policy of, or necessity for, a proposed public improvement, cannot be reviewed by the courts.

2. That one of the commissioners appointed to assess damages and benefits arising from the widening of a street strongly opposed the passage of the ordinance authorizing the improvement when it was pending before the assembly and mayor, is not ground for setting aside the report of the commissioners at the instance of an exceptor, who had opportunity to promptly object to the appointment of any of the commissioners, but did not do so until after their report was filed.

3. St. Louis City Charter, art. 6, § 5, provides that the commissioners to assess damages and benefits arising from public improvements shall assess the benefits against the owners of all property which shall be specially benefited by the proposed improvement in the opinion of the commissioners. An ordinance directing the mode of procedure for the commissioners provides that they shall establish a district including the property benefited, and give notice to the owners of the property, who shall be entitled to be heard, etc. Held, that the commissioners, after laying out the benefit district as required, may at any time before the filing of their final report enlarge or reduce it, as they may decide is right and just.

4. St. Louis City Charter, art. 6, § 5, provides that assessments for benefits from public improvements shall be assessed against the owners of all property which shall be specially benefited by the proposed public improvement, etc., and makes such assessment a lien on the property. Held, that public property lying within the district benefited by a public improvement cannot be included in the assessments for benefits.

5. Defendant, at the time of the passage of an ordinance authorizing the widening of a street on which his property abutted, had started the construction of a large building, for which he had tenants waiting at a fixed rental. On the passage of the ordinance he removed the site of the building far enough back to allow the street to be widened without disturbing it. Held, under Const. art. 2, § 21, providing that private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation, that, in addition to compensation for the property taken, defendant was entitled to the cost of moving the site of his building, and to the rental lost through delay in completing the building occasioned by making the move.

6. A finding by commissioners to assess damages for private property taken for street improvements that the reduction of a lot 70 feet wide by half reduced its value more than half will not be disturbed where the property was in a large wholesale district, and it appeared that the value per front foot of such a lot might be greatly influenced by its size.

Appeal from St. Louis circuit court; P. R. Flitcraft, Judge.

Condemnation proceedings by the city of St. Louis against A. D. Brown and others. From a judgment overruling exceptions taken to the report of the commissioners appointed to assess damages and benefits, the Collins Realty Company and others appeal. Affirmed.

Noble & Shields, Boyle, Priest & Lehmann, Lon. O. Hocker, Valle Reyburn, Bryan, Richards & Rozier, John H. Drabelle, and Collins, Jamison & Chappell, for appellants. B. Schnurmacher and Chas. C. Allen, for respondent city of St. Louis. Silas B. Jones, for other respondents.

VALLIANT, J.


This is a condemnation proceeding to widen a part of Twelfth street in the city of St. Louis. In 1898, Twelfth street, from Market street northward to St. Charles street, was 150 feet wide, and from St. Charles street north it was 80 feet wide. The next street north of St. Charles, crossing Twelfth, is Washington avenue, it being a solid block from the one street to the other. The defendant Brown owned a lot extending from St. Charles street to Washington avenue, having a front on each of the three streets; that is, about 200 feet on Washington avenue and St. Charles, each, and 150 feet on the east side of Twelfth street. The purpose of this suit is to widen Twelfth street from St. Charles to Washington avenue, so as to carry the width of 150 feet to that point. To do this it was necessary to cut off 35 feet and 4 inches from the west end of Brown's lot by running a new east line of Twelfth street through his lot from St. Charles to Washington avenue 35 feet and 4 inches east of the old east line of Twelfth street, and also cutting off from lots of other parties on the other side of that street. An ordinance of the city authorizing this proceeding was approved February 12, 1898. At the time this ordinance was approved, defendant Brown had entered into contracts under which a large steel and brick mercantile building was to be erected on the lot, which he had already contracted to lease to responsible firms as soon as it should be completed. This building has since,

56 S.W. 299

with the change as to location presently to be noted, been completed at a cost, including equipment, of about $325,000. At the date of the ordinance the excavation for the building had been made, some retaining walls, etc., constructed, and the work was ready to progress under the contracts. When the ordinance was in the course of its passage, and when it was in the hands of the mayor for his approval, the defendant Brown exerted all the influence at his disposal to defeat it, and in this he had the co-operation of some of the appellants in this case. But when the ordinance was signed by the mayor, Brown adjusted the proposed building to the emergency, and moved its site back 35 feet 4 inches east from the old line of Twelfth street, and it was then erected, leaving the 35 feet 4 inches to be taken by the city according to the exigencies of the ordinance. If the building had been erected on the original site, it would have left Brown a vacant lot adjoining on the east of 70 feet front on Washington avenue and St. Charles street, for other purposes; but when this change was made it reduced the adjoining lot to 35 feet front. These condemnation proceedings were commenced in due form on the 24th of February, 1898. After process was served on the defendants on April 6, 1898, commissioners were appointed by the circuit court, who, after being sworn, entered upon the duties of their office, and on November 11, 1898, filed their report, wherein it appeared that the total amount of damages awarded all the defendants in the case was $293,150.93, of which they assessed against the city $102,602.85, and the balance, $190,548.08, against private property included in the benefit district. Of these damages the commissioners awarded $159,563.18 to defendant Brown, and assessed him $33,377.50 of the benefits; to defendant Conzelman, who owned property on the other side of Twelfth street, they awarded $96,619 damages; and to defendant Blell, also on the west side of the street, $36,968.75 damages, and assessed him with $8,041.66 as his share of the benefit. In awarding the damages to defendant Brown the commissioners estimated not only the value of the land actually taken, but also the expense he was put to in moving the site of his building to conform to the city's demand, and the delay occasioned thereby in the completion of the house, and the injury to the remaining lot consequent on its reduction in size. The commissioners laid out a large benefit district over which they distributed their benefit assessments, many of the owners of property in which district filed exceptions to the report, all of which were heard and overruled by the court, and those exceptors are the appellants here. The foregoing statement is the case in general outline. The more particular details necessary to be considered will be mentioned in connection with the several points advanced by the counsel in their briefs.

1. Appellants say there was no necessity for widening Twelfth street. In this opinion they seem to have had the concurrence of defendant Brown, who united his efforts with those of the appellants in an endeavor to prevent the passage and approval of the ordinance. Public costly improvements are not unfrequently opposed by those at whose immediate expense they are to be made, and would often be defeated if left alone to their decision. The desire in such matters often controls the judgment, so that such improvements are frequently made against the will of those immediately to be affected. The determination of such matters, however, is not left to them, but to a presumably more disinterested body; and in this instance the power is in the municipal assembly and the mayor, and its exercise is intrusted alone to their judgment. Whether or not the purpose of the ordinance is good policy is a question for the ordinance-making power of the city government, and the courts have no review of it. When it is proposed to take private property for public use, the individual affected has a right to challenge in court the character of the use proposed, and the court will determine whether it be or be not a public use. That is to say, whether or not the use proposed is, in its nature, a public use, is a judicial question; but whether or not the exercise of the authority in the particular case is expedient or politic is a question for the legislative and executive departments of the city government. Lewis, Em. Dom. § 158. A good deal of testimony on the part of exceptors was designed to show that the widening of the street was a mere æsthetic idea, and of doubtful policy; but with that subject we have nothing to do.

2. It is contended that one of the commissioners...

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46 practice notes
  • Kansas City v. Jones Store Co., No. 29710.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 3, 1930
    ...proceedings were void. City of Edina v. School District, 305 Mo. 452; City of Clinton v. Henry County, 115 Mo. 557; St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 545; Thogmartin v. School District, 189 Mo. App. 10. (19) The ordinance providing for this condemnation proceeding does not provide for ascertainin......
  • State ex Inf. Attorney-General v. Curtis, No. 28264.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 17, 1928
    ...interfered with by the court unless the commissioners have erred in the principal upon which the appraisal was made. St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 545; St. Louis v. Abeln, 170 Mo. 318; Railroad v. Richardson, 45 Mo. 466; Railroad v. Campbell, 62 Mo. 585. Notice of the taking of property for a......
  • City of St. Louis v. Senter Comm. Co., No. 32895.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 5, 1935
    ...are required under the law to raise this question at their first opportunity. This they failed to do. St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 557, 56 S.W. 298; Wabash Ry. Co. v. St. Louis, 64 Fed. (2d) 927; American Tobacco Co. v. St. Louis, 247 Mo. 530, 157 S.W. 533; City Charter, Art. XXI, Sec. 5; Se......
  • Kansas Turnpike Project, In re, No. 40335
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • October 25, 1957
    ...be in fact less than just compensation for the injury suffered falls short of the constitutional measure.' City of St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 545, 56 S.W. 298, 302. It seems to us also that those courts which Page 397 have undertaken to limit the total award to the value of the unencumbere......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • Kansas City v. Jones Store Co., No. 29710.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 3, 1930
    ...proceedings were void. City of Edina v. School District, 305 Mo. 452; City of Clinton v. Henry County, 115 Mo. 557; St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 545; Thogmartin v. School District, 189 Mo. App. 10. (19) The ordinance providing for this condemnation proceeding does not provide for ascertainin......
  • State ex Inf. Attorney-General v. Curtis, No. 28264.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 17, 1928
    ...interfered with by the court unless the commissioners have erred in the principal upon which the appraisal was made. St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 545; St. Louis v. Abeln, 170 Mo. 318; Railroad v. Richardson, 45 Mo. 466; Railroad v. Campbell, 62 Mo. 585. Notice of the taking of property for a......
  • City of St. Louis v. Senter Comm. Co., No. 32895.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 5, 1935
    ...are required under the law to raise this question at their first opportunity. This they failed to do. St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 557, 56 S.W. 298; Wabash Ry. Co. v. St. Louis, 64 Fed. (2d) 927; American Tobacco Co. v. St. Louis, 247 Mo. 530, 157 S.W. 533; City Charter, Art. XXI, Sec. 5; Se......
  • St. Louis v. Smith, No. 28434.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 11, 1930
    ...St. Louis v. Calhoun, 222 Mo. 44; Cape Girardeau v. Dennis, 67 Mo. 438; Prairie Pipe Line Co. v. Shipp, 305 Mo. 663; St. Louis v. Brown, 155 Mo. 545, 567; St. Louis v. Abeln, 170 Mo. 318; St. Louis v. Railway, 272 Mo. 80; Doyle v. Railway, 113 Mo. 280; Ry. v. Knapp-Stout Co., 160 Mo. 396. (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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