Sullivan v. City of Ulysses

Decision Date14 February 1997
Docket NumberNo. 75721,75721
Citation932 P.2d 456,23 Kan.App.2d 502
PartiesDaniel C. SULLIVAN, JR., Appellant, v. CITY OF ULYSSES, Kansas, a Municipal Corporation; and David L. Pope, Chief Engineer of the Division of Water Resources, Kansas State Board of Agriculture, Appellees.
CourtKansas Court of Appeals

Syllabus by the Court

1. K.S.A. 12-694 is construed and applied.

2. The Eminent Domain Procedure Act, K.S.A. 26-501 et seq., is construed and applied.

3. Provisions of the Kansas Water Appropriation Act, K.S.A. 82a-701 et seq., are construed and applied.

4. K.S.A.1995 Supp. 77-201 Eighth is construed and applied.

5. An appellate court's review of a question of law is unlimited.

6. The State has inherent powers of eminent domain which the legislature may delegate to any public authority.

7. A water right is included within the definition of "land" under K.S.A.1995 Supp. 77-201 Eighth and, thus, is subject to condemnation pursuant to K.S.A. 12-694.

8. A city with the power of eminent domain is not barred from filing an application to change a water right use under K.S.A.1995 Supp. 82a-708b before acquiring that water right.

9. A city is vested with reasonable discretion to determine what property is necessary for municipal purposes, and the exercise of that discretion will not be disturbed absent fraud, bad faith, or an abuse of discretion.

10. In reviewing a city's actions, the conditions existing at the time of the condemnation are to be considered.

11. Negative findings will not be disturbed on appeal absent a showing of arbitrary disregard of undisputed evidence or of bias, passion, or prejudice.

12. A hearing for a temporary injunction may be consolidated with trial on the merits for a permanent injunction so long as the parties are not prejudiced.

Thomas M. Rhoads, Wichita, Daniel C. Sullivan of Sullivan & Hincks, Oak Brook, IL, and Wayne R. Tate of Kramer, Nordling, Nordling & Tate, Hugoton, for appellant.

Leland E. Rolfs of Kansas Division of Water Resources, Topeka, for appellee David L. Pope.

Michael K. Ramsey of Hope, Mills, Bolin, Collins & Ramsey, Garden City, and Robert W. Coykendall of Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock & Kennedy, Chartered, Wichita, for appellee City of Ulysses.

Before BRAZIL, C.J., and ELLIOTT and GERNON, JJ.


Daniel C. Sullivan, Jr., appeals the trial court's denial of his request for injunctive relief from a condemnation proceeding. The City of Ulysses (City) is attempting to condemn surface and water rights in Grant County for its municipal water supply.

We affirm.

In 1989, Maxie Coffey, who owned the property at the time, contracted with the City for the sale of water. The agreement did not provide for the transfer or lease of water rights; rather, the contract treated the water as personalty. The City then filed an application with the Division of Water Resources (Division) for approval to change the place of use, point of diversion, and use made of the water from irrigation to municipal purposes.

The Division informed the City that it could not lawfully drill a well without a permit. The City, however, constructed a well on the property and started pumping water for municipal purposes. The City administrator testified that the well is located less than 5 miles from the city limits.

To complicate matters, Maxie andRichard Coffey conveyed the property by warranty deed in 1991 to Sullivan without expressly excepting the water rights. The Coffeys apparently believed they still owned the water rights because, in 1994, they sued Sullivan and a bank, seeking to reform the deed so they could retain the water rights. Neither the City nor the chief engineer was named in that suit.

Sullivan then told the City it was illegally converting water contrary to the Kansas Water Appropriation Act, K.S.A. 82a-701 et seq. The City felt Sullivan's demand was premature due to the lawsuit pending between Sullivan and the Coffeys. After briefs were filed in the present appeal, a district court found that Sullivan owned the water rights. The Coffeys have appealed that decision, which appeal is now pending as Coffey v. Sullivan, No. 77,661.

Meanwhile, the City's application to change the water's use was returned several times for lack of necessary information and, apparently, that application still pends before the chief engineer after some 6 years.

While the Division never sent the City a formal cease and desist order, the City eventually stopped pumping water from the well and stopped making payments to the Coffeys under their contract.

Finally, the City filed its condemnation proceeding, alleging the taking was necessary to provide a reliable public water supply and a location to dispose of waste water. Sullivan responded by filing a separate action against the City and the chief engineer, seeking to permanently enjoin the condemnation of the property. Sullivan also sought damages, a declaratory judgment, and an order in mandamus.

In September 1995, a temporary injunction was issued and the matter was rescheduled for hearing on October 12, 1995, at which time the trial court indicated the temporary injunction would be dissolved and either a permanent injunction would issue or the condemnation would be allowed to proceed. After hearing evidence at the October hearing, the trial court denied Sullivan's request for a permanent injunction and subsequently stayed the condemnation proceeding pending resolution of this appeal.

Sullivan first contends the trial court erred in finding the City had complied with statutory procedures to condemn the property and water rights. This argument raises a question of law, and our scope of review is unlimited. Foulk v. Colonial Terrace, 20 Kan.App.2d 277, 283, 887 P.2d 140 (1994), rev. denied 257 Kan. 1091 (1995).

The trial court found that K.S.A. 12-694 specifically granted the City the power to condemn the property in question. The State has inherent powers of eminent domain, which the legislature may delegate to any public authority. Concerned Citizens, United, Inc. v. Kansas Power & Light Co., 215 Kan. 218, 226, 523 P.2d 755 (1974).

K.S.A. 12-694 provides that a city may acquire, by exercising its eminent domain powers in accordance with the Eminent Domain Procedure Act (K.S.A. 26-501 et seq.), all lands necessary to establish a public well within 5 miles of the city limits, or within 20 miles of the city where it is necessary in order to obtain an adequate water supply.

Sullivan argues K.S.A. 12-694 does not permit the condemnation of water rights because the statute does not specifically mention water rights. Relying on K.S.A.1995 Supp. 77-201 Eighth and K.S.A. 82a-701(g), Sullivan argues that because condemnation involves an involuntary transfer, an appurtenant water right cannot pass with the land unless the eminent domain statutes expressly confer the authority to condemn water rights. We disagree.

Sullivan's interpretation would simply nullify those statutes which grant public authorities eminent domain power in order to acquire water rights. See Peck & Weatherby, Condemnation of Water and Water Rights in Kansas, 42 Kan. L.Rev. 827, 832 (1994). Further, to read K.S.A. 82a-701(g) as limiting the power of eminent domain to acquire a water supply would be contrary to the legislature's intent to grant cities the power to obtain a viable water source through condemnation.

K.S.A.1995 Supp. 77-201 Eighth states that "land" includes all legal and equitable interests in real property. The legislature has deemed water rights to be real property rights, see K.S.A. 82a-701(g); therefore, these rights would clearly be interests in real property. Accordingly, we hold a water right is included within the definition of "land" under K.S.A.1995 Supp. 77-201 Eighth and, thus, is subject to condemnation pursuant to K.S.A. 12-694.

Sullivan also wants us to interpret the 5-mile requirement in K.S.A. 12-694 to mean the length of the required pipeline rather than the linear distance the well is located from the city limits. We think the statute clearly means the linear distance from where the well is established to the city boundary.

Given our reading of K.S.A. 12-694, questions of whether other statutes also grant the City condemnation powers become moot. We further note we express no thoughts about the current ownership of the water rights here involved; that matter will be decided in Coffey v. Sullivan, No. 77,661.

Sullivan also contends the City must obtain the Division's approval to change the use of water from irrigation to municipal purpose before it can actually condemn those water rights. K.S.A.1995 Supp. 82a-708b requires the owner of a water right to obtain the Division's approval.

We think 82a-708b should be interpreted to permit a city with the power of eminent domain to apply for a change in use as an "owner" because the city will become the "owner" after complying with the Eminent Domain Procedure Act. See Peck & Weatherby, 42 Kan. L.Rev. at 834; a...

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  • City of Freeman v. Salis
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • June 27, 2001
    ...of discretion, we consider all relevant conditions existing at the time of the resolution of necessity. Sullivan v. City of Ulysses, 23 Kan.App.2d 502, 932 P.2d 456, 457 (1997) (citations [¶ 11.] We have yet to examine the concept of bad faith in the context of condemnation proceedings unde......

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