Housing Authority of City of Charleston v. Olasov, 0251

Decision Date05 September 1984
Docket NumberNo. 0251,0251
Citation282 S.C. 603,320 S.E.2d 478
CourtSouth Carolina Court of Appeals
PartiesThe HOUSING AUTHORITY OF the CITY OF CHARLESTON, Respondent, v. Faye R. OLASOV, Appellant.

William L. Runyon, Jr., Charleston, for appellant.

J.C. Hare and Stephen T. Schachte of Legare, Hare & Smith, Charleston, for respondent.


This is an appeal of a condemnation award. On September 1, 1981, the Housing Authority of the City of Charleston (Housing Authority) filed its petition for condemnation of two lots of land owned by appellant Faye R. Olasov (landowner). A board of condemnation (Board) was appointed by the circuit court to determine just compensation for the property. The Board found that the value of the property was $18,000. The landowner appealed the award to the circuit court. 1 No jury trial was requested by either party. Thus, the appeal was heard by the circuit court upon the written record taken before the Board in accordance with Code Section 31-3-470. The trial judge confirmed the award of the Board and the landowner appealed. We affirm.

The landowner argues on appeal that the trial court (1) should have reversed or modified the Board's decision or should have remanded the matter to the Board because the evidence does not support the amount of the award, (2) utilized the incorrect standard of review in confirming the award and (3) should not have confirmed the Board's report of the award as a matter of law since it did not contain appropriate findings of fact. Finally, the landowner urges this Court to reverse the decision of the trial court because it, too, does not contain adequate findings of fact.

The evidence presented to the Board consisted of the testimony of two witnesses presented by the Housing Authority and three by the landowner. The Housing Authority's first witness testified simply to matters regarding compliance by the Housing Authority with the statutes and ordinances regarding the condemnation. The Housing Authority's second witness, a MAI appraiser, testified he had appraised the property using the comparable sales approach and arrived at a value of $15,000 as of September 9, 1981. 2 The landowner, on the other hand, presented no expert real estate appraiser. Her first witness was Alfred Ray, a real estate agent of two years experience, who testified that he had not appraised the lots, but in April, 1981, he received an offer to purchase one of the lots for the sum of $16,500, contingent upon obtaining permission to move a building from another location to the lot. Mr. Ray testified that the client lost interest in purchasing the lot when he learned of the proposed condemnation by the Housing Authority. Mr. Ray also testified that he knew of several lot sales in the area and the least expensive sale he knew of was for $12,000. He could not compare the size of the $12,000 lot with the lot being condemned.

Mr. Olasov, husband of the landowner, testified that he was familiar with the increase in value of real estate in the area resulting from the restoration of old properties and estimated that the property was worth between $35,000 and $40,000. Finally, the landowner presented the testimony of Mr. Scott, a property owner in the area, who testified that a house near the condemned lot recently sold in its "unrestored" state for $45,000. He further testified that he had purchased a similar house and lot in the area, about three years prior to the hearing, for $15,000. He suggested that real estate values had tripled in the area over the three year period preceding the Board hearing due primarily to restoration of properties in the area.

Applying the standard of review utilized by circuit courts in reviewing awards of the Industrial Commission, the trial judge entered an order which, in pertinent part, reads as follows:

The Court finds no error of law or fact contained in the record taken by the Condemnation Board. This Court cannot weigh this evidence but in absence of error, may only determine whether or not there was sufficient evidence to substain [sic] these Findings. This Court finds that there is ample evidence to substain [sic] the Findings of the Condemnation Board and this Court has not [sic] authority to substitute its own judgment for that of the Condemnation Board. This point has been decided countless times by the Supreme Court of this state. (citations omitted).

This Court having found that the record in this case contains ample evidence to support the Findings of the Condemnation Board and that no error in law has been committed herein, now, therefore, it is ordered ... that the appeal of the Respondent herein be and is hereby dismissed ....

The landowner argues that the use of the term "ample evidence" by the trial judge demonstrates he utilized the wrong standard of review in confirming the Board's award. She urges use of the substantial evidence standard of the Administrative Procedures Act. We disagree. 3 As stated in Rice v. South Carolina Department of Highways and Public Transportation, 277 S.C. 495, 289 S.E.2d 645 (1982), little guidance is available to the bench and bar for the conduct of court review of condemnation proceedings. We have been unable to locate a rule of court, case law or a statute that describes the standard of review to be employed by a court in reviewing an award of a municipal housing authority's condemnation board.

It is generally recognized that the findings of a condemnation board are entitled to great weight, are prima facie correct and should be confirmed unless found to be based upon unlawful procedure, erroneous principles of law or cannot be supported by any reasonable view of the evidence. State Highway Commissioner v. Foster, 216 Va. 745, 222 S.E.2d 780 (1976); City of St. Louis v. Union Quarry and Construction Co., 394 S.W.2d 300 (Mo.1965); Mackie v. Walma, 369 Mich. 687, 120 N.W.2d 833 (1963); 27 Am.Jur.2d Eminent Domain Section 471 (1966); 30 C.J.S. Eminent Domain § 307 (1965); see also, Walker v. City Council of Charleston, 1 Bailey 443, 8 S.C. Eq. 226 (1831). We think that the general rule set out above is sound and hereby adopt that standard as being appropriate for court review of a municipal housing authority condemnation board award. Applying this standard to the facts of this case, we find no error in the trial court's use of the term "ample evidence." "Ample" connotes sufficient.

We now review the other assignments of error based upon the standard of review adopted. First, the landowner claims the trial judge should have reversed, modified or remanded the Board's award because the evidence does not support the award. She specifically claims that the Board relied on the appraisal of the Housing Authority's expert appraiser which appraisal was based on data over two years old. She further asserts that the 1981 offer to purchase one of the lots for $16,500 shows that the $18,000 award was grossly inadequate.

We note first that the record on appeal does not support the assertion that the Board relied exclusively upon the testimony of the expert appraiser. Secondly, a condemnation board may exercise its own judgment upon the evidence and a viewing of the property. State Highway Commissioner v. Frazier, 214 Va. 556, 203 S.E.2d 350 (1974); Dueitt v. Harris County, 249 S.W.2d 636 (Tex.Civ.App.1952); Cade v. U.S., 213 F.2d 138 (4th Cir.1954); see also South Carolina State Highway Department v. Townsend, 265 S.C. 253, 217 S.E.2d 778 (1975). Thirdly, even if the Board based its award upon the expert appraiser's testimony, we cannot say that was error. The MAI appraiser testified that while his comparables were over two years old, he made adjustments for the passage of time and that $18,000 represented the value of the property as of September 9, 1981.

The landowner was entitled to the fair market value of her property at the time of...

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8 cases
  • In re Estate of Seefeldt, 23843.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • August 9, 2006
    ...Id. citing Blouin, 490 A.2d 1212; McAdams v. Bolsinger, 57 Ohio Op 338, 129 N.E.2d 878 (1950); cf. Housing Auth. of City of Charleston v. Olasov, 282 S.C. 603, 320 S.E.2d 478 (Ct.App.1984). ...
  • Mazloom v. Mazloom
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • January 28, 2009
    ...open market and in an arm's[ ]length transaction." Black's Law Dictionary 1256 (7th ed.2000); see Hous. Auth. of Charleston v. Olasov, 282 S.C. 603, 608, 320 S.E.2d 478, 481 (Ct.App.1984) ("Fair market value is the price which a willing buyer will pay a willing seller, neither being under c......
  • Henderson v. Gould, Inc.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • December 16, 1985
    ...directory rather than mandatory and failure to follow its directions does not require reversal. Housing Authority of City of Charleston v. Olasov, 282 S.C. 603, 320 S.E.2d 478 (Ct.App.1984) ; May v. Cavender, 29 S.C. 598, 7 S.E. 489 (1888). We next address whether the Circuit Court erred in......
  • Pate v. Ford
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • November 12, 1986
    ...490 A.2d 1212 (Me. 1985); McAdams v. Bolsinger, 57 Ohio Op. 338, 129 N.E.2d 878 (P.Ct.1950); cf. Housing Authority of City of Charleston v. Olasov, 282 S.C. 603, 320 S.E.2d 478 (Ct.App.1984) ("fair market value" is price willing buyer will pay willing seller, neither being under compulsion ......
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