When the appraiser couldn’t find comparable sales for the taking of an easement strip measuring 30′ by 4,600′ (3.2 acres) across a 272-acre farm, he ingeniously substituted another parcel for the taking, which he then appraised at an amount which formed the basis of the compensation awarded.
[The appraiser’s] analysis was not designed to find the market value of the easement actually condemned; it was designed to find the market value of a piece of land the Authority did not take: a 3.2 acre rectangular tract with frontage on Highway 123 and direct utilities access. The comparable sales method fails when the comparison is made to sales that are not, in fact, comparable to the land condemned.The two sales [the appraiser] used as comparables may have had characteristics similar to his hypothetical tract, but they were not comparable to the easement actually taken.The easement condemned ran through undivided grazing land 3,900 feet from the highway and utilities access; the sales [the appraiser] used were commercial and subdivided residential tracts with road frontage and utilities directly on site. These sales were not comparable to the condemned easement as a matter of law.
This case had to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Texas, where the award was overturned on the realization that the landowner had been compensated for a hypothetical property that had not been taken. Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority v. Kraft, No. 01-0150 (Tex. 2002).