What’s that stuff called that baffles brains? An appraiser valuing an undevelopable 28-acre narrow strip taking of 5,200 feet along the western boundary of a 346-acre unserviced parcel as part of a future highway went to great lengths in discussing highest and best use. He concluded that the highest and best use of the 346-acre parcel before the taking was as “a short term holding for fully serviced, mixed use development”. Obviously, this appraiser is a true believer of spontaneous development and absorption.
Without providing any indication of highest and best use for the land actually taken, and no before and after valuation undertaken, the appraiser was not deterred in his pursuit of valuing the taking directly. He took primarily small economically viable, in-fill, stand-alone comparable sales, and then concocted numerous adjustments in comparing the transactions to the 28-acre taking, which could not stand-alone as a marketable entity, and for which there was no independent highest and best use. The 28-acre taking was erroneously treated as the Larger Parcel (which would eliminate any claim for injurious affection or severance damage), yet the appraiser proceeded to enhance the landowner’s claim for compensation by introducing a number of nonsensical claims to the remaining 318 acres for injurious affection or severance damages involving the mythical subdivision of the lands and their subsequent development with houses over a period spanning 22 years after the effective date of the taking.
One of the claims for injurious affection or severance damage involved houses built on the remaining lands some 17 years after the taking with a hypothetical reduction in value illustrated by way of a proximity study. The appraiser compared the houses abutting the highway, which formed the land taken, with houses built on an interior street to illustrate the difference in value due to the highway. Although this exercise was irrelevant, a proper proximity study, had one been warranted, would have compared a raw tract adjacent to a major arterial road which the lands abutted before the taking to a major highway which the lands abutted after the taking. This case was settled before the appraiser had an opportunity to mesmerize the Board with his “junk science”.