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In re Application of Parking Authority

Decided: May 17, 1954.

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF THE PARKING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF HACKENSACK TO ACQUIRE CERTAIN LAND OF JOSEPH DELLA SALA, ET AL., IN THE CITY OF HACKENSACK, BERGEN COUNTY, NEW JERSEY, FOR PUBLIC USE FOR OFF-STREET PARKING PURPOSES AND TO FIX THE COMPENSATION TO BE PAID THEREFOR. JOSEPH DELLA SALA AND FELICIA DELLA SALA, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
PARKING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF HACKENSACK, NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Eastwood, Jayne and Smalley. The opinion of the court was delivered by Eastwood, S.j.a.d.

Eastwood

This is an appeal from the judgment of the Superior Court, Law Division, awarding $8,900 to the appellants as damages to their property, a portion of which was taken by condemnation of the Hackensack Parking Authority.

The plaintiffs owned a parcel of land in the commercial district of Hackensack, being approximately 71 feet in frontage on Warren Street and running to a depth of 205 feet, with a width in the rear of approximately 61 feet. The parcel of land taken by condemnation is the rear 105.75 feet, leaving the Warren Street front parcel to a depth of 100 feet. There was erected on the parcel taken four concrete block

garages that were being rented for $6 each per month and two hollow-tile buildings, one designated and rented as a machine shop and the other a feed and fertilizer warehouse, at $75 per month. On the remaining portion, not taken, there is a two-family brick dwelling.

The jury viewed the premises in question and after hearing the proofs proffered by the parties, awarded the plaintiffs the sum of $8,900. From the ensuing judgment the plaintiffs appeal

The plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in that it refused to permit them to prove by an expert the reproduction costs of the buildings which were admittedly 50 or 60 years old (one containing an inscription of 1842); in denying their expert to testify both on direct and rebuttal as to reproduction costs, although permitting defendant's expert, over objection, to testify thereto; that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence; that certain remarks and questions by the court were prejudicial to the plaintiffs; that the judgment is erroneous in that it failed to include an allowance of interest on the award from the date of taking and that the trial court erred in refusing to charge the jury as requested by plaintiffs.

In taking the plaintiffs' property, the Parking Authority of the City of Hackensack was acting under the provisions of L. 1948, c. 198 (R.S. 40:11 A -1 et seq.), as well as its powers of eminent domain under the provisions of R.S. 20:1 et seq.

The record discloses that plaintiffs' expert testified as to his opinion of the value of the propeerty taken and then plaintiffs attempted to elicit from him testimony as to the cost of reproduction of the old buildings on the land. This the court would not permit, stating:

"It is a total of the land and the buildings. You can't break up and say a building is worth so much, and the land is worth so much, any more than you can evaluate a tree or bush on it. That is what enhances the value of the land."

The court similarly refused to permit a building contractor, proffered by plaintiffs, to testify as to reproduction costs.

The defendant's expert was called and testified that in his opinion the value of the property before taking was $28,500, and after taking was $19,600, and that the $8,900 difference was the damage plaintiffs sustained by the taking. On cross-examination, the plaintiffs posed this question: "Q. Mr. Schwenn, would you mind telling us on what basis you have appraised this property?" When Mr. Schwenn stated one of his bases for his opinion as to value was reproduction cost less depreciation, the court, over plaintiffs' objection, stated: "I will allow it, how he arrived at his value, so the jury can determine whether it is any good or not. I will allow it. It is an entirely different proposition than bringing in somebody and asking him what the replacement cost of a 4-garage is. Go ahead." It was in ...


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