Haw. Hous. Auth. v. Rodrigues
|23 March 1959
|43 Haw. 195
|HAWAII HOUSING AUTHORITY, A PUBLIC BODY AND A BODY CORPORATE AND POLITIC v. VIOLET K. RODRIGUES ET AL.
|Hawaii Supreme Court
OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE
APPEAL FROM CIRCUIT COURT FIRST CIRCUIT, HON. ALBERT M. FELIX, JUDGE.
Syllabus by the Court
The Fifth Amendment provides that property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
When a parcel of land is taken for public use by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, the measure of compensation is the fair market value of the land.
By fair market value is meant the amount of money which a purchaser willing but not obliged to buy the property would pay to an owner willing but not obliged to sell it, taking into consideration all uses to which the property was adapted and might in reason be applied.
Circumstances showing the adaptability of land for subdivision purposes may be shown, but evidence that the property could be divided into a certain number of lots of certain dimensions and separately valued as to sales prices would as a matter of law be speculative and inadmissible.
Joseph V. Hodgson ( Richard K. Sharpless, Attorney General, on opening brief; no reply brief) for appellant.
Earl S. Robinson ( Fong, Miho, Choy & Chuck on the brief) for appellee.
This is a proceeding by the Hawaii Housing Authority to condemn for a housing-project site two parcels of land in Kalihi, Honolulu, owned by Wong Wai Kong and Yuk Moi Lum Kong, husband and wife. The two parcels are not adjacent to each other but are separated by land belonging to other people. A jury-waived trial was had in the circuit court of the first circuit and this appeal is from the amount awarded the land owners. The single question before this court is as to the method of valuation of the property.
The Hawaii Housing Authority had contemplated a development project which included a portion of the land owned by Mr. Wong and his wife who were also planning a development of the two parcels. There was considerable delay in the proceeding and much correspondence was had between the attorneys for the Wongs and the Housing Authority with reference to whether the Wongs' land would be included within the proposed Housing Authority location. In October 1951 a letter was written to the Housing Authority by Mr. Fong, attorney for Wong, asking “that you release Mr. Wong's property from your proposed plan for a lowrent housing area.” In November 1951 the Housing Authority answered the letter, stating the public Housing Authority had tentatively approved this site for 132 units of low-rent housing, had entered into a contract with appraisers for an appraisal of the property, and had retained a local architect to prepare plans and specifications, and further set out that the Authority intended to move as rapidly as possible to acquire the site of which Mr. Wong's land was a part. It also stated “It is our understanding that we have no control over the development or improvement of property by an individual owner until such time as the owner and the Authority have arrived at a negotiated sales price or condemnation proceedings have been initiated and any improvements made to the property up to that point would have to be acquired by the Authority at a price satisfactory to the owner arrived at through one of the two procedures above mentioned.”
In the latter part of 1949 the owners had employed as their agent for the development of the two parcels a partnership termed Realty Company. This company, in the summer of 1951, employed an engineering firm of Park & Park to do work in connection with the proposed residential subdivision of the two parcels, and the firm of Fong, Miho & Choy was employed to render legal services in connection with such development, including the obtaining of approval of the subdivision by the city planning commission. In February 1952 the planning commission made a tentative approval of the subdivision, subject to construction of street improvements, utilities, etc. In the meantime, efforts by the Wongs to obtain rights of way for sewers, drainage, etc., over a portion of the land owned by the Housing Authority were unsuccessful. In September 1952 condemnation proceedings were instituted condemning all of one of the two parcels and part of the other parcel.
The condemner and the condemnees stipulated that the fair market value of these parcels on September 18, 1952, was $104,750, not considering the condemnees' expenses in connection with their proposed residential subdivision or their anticipated profit in the event this subdivision were completed and all of the lots sold at retail. The expenses of this abortive attempt to subdivide the parcels totalled $9,500 and 25 per cent of the...
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