The proper test for value of land taken by condemnation is the similarity in character and locality of the land sold, together with the fact that the sale was not so far removed in point of time from the appropriation as to make a comparison inaccurate or impossible. The sale must have been not compulsory and made on a free and open market. These features will vary as the particular situation varies. On the point of similarity in character and locality, obviously if part of an allotment is condemned, sales, in order to be evidence of market value, should be of lots either within the immediate vicinity of very close. But when large areas of open country are involved, similarity of character and locality depends upon mere propinquity. The character of such land situated several miles from land condemned may well be more comparable than that within a few hundred feet. This is a question to be decided in the first instance and his discretion by the trial court.
The United States filed a condemnation proceeding against the landowners. At trial, the landowners attempted to show that the land, which had been used in operating three successful farms, had an enhanced value because of a reasonable probable demand for such land for industrial purposes. Certain evidence was excluded on that issue by the district court and the landowners appealed the judgments of the district court in setting compensation.
Whether the land, which had been used in operating three successful farms, had an enhanced value because of a reasonable probable demand for such land for industrial purposes.
The court found that the landowners had endeavored to show that, while 12,000 acres remained available in the county, it was mostly in small tracts unsuitable for industrial use because of lack of proper water supply. The court held that such evidence was directly relevant upon the crucial issue of probable demand for land such as that of the landowners within the reasonably near future. It was also reversible error to exclude evidence of recent sales of comparable land within the greater city area but outside the township. The landowners should have been permitted to prove their claims without being restricted to a comparison of properties within the township. The court reversed and remanded for new trial.