Appeal from Oakland, Robert L. Templin, J.
D. E. Holbrook, P. J., and J. H. Gillis and M. J. Kelly, JJ.
1. Witnesses -- Expert Witnesses -- Lay Witnesses -- Special Knowledge -- Real Property -- Fraternity of Appraisers.
A lay witness may testify regarding land value if he has seen the land and has some knowledge of the value of other lands in the immediate vicinity; he need not qualify as an expert belonging to any recognized association of the fraternity of appraisers.
2. Zoning -- Constitutionality of Ordinances -- Confiscatory Ordinances -- Burden of Proof -- Depreciation of Value.
To sustain an attack on a zoning ordinance an aggrieved property owner must show that if the ordinance is enforced the consequent restrictions on his property preclude its use for any purposes to which it is reasonably adapted; property need not be zoned for its most lucrative use, but depreciation of land value is one factor to be considered in determining whether a zoning classification is confiscatory.
3. Zoning -- Constitutional Law -- Confiscatory Ordinances -- Reasonable Uses -- Single-Family Residences -- Costs -- Limited Market.
The severity of the economic hardship imposed by a single-family residential zoning classification deprived a plaintiff of any reasonable use of his property and was therefore confiscatory and unconstitutional where the plaintiff could not develop his vacant land under the classification without losing a great deal of money, and if he did so develop the land he might have difficulty disposing of it because of the limited market for single-family homes in the area.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gillis
Complaint by Equitable Building Company against the City of Royal Oak for an injunction to restrain the enforcement of a zoning ordinance. Judgment for plaintiff. Defendant appeals.
In 1972, plaintiff initiated this action in Oakland County Circuit Court to have defendant's zoning ordinance declared unconstitutional as applied to plaintiff's property. The trial court rendered judgment for plaintiff, and defendant now appeals.
Plaintiff's property, purchased in 1964 for approximately $40,000, consists of approximately 2.3 acres of undeveloped land located in the northern section of Royal Oak. The property has been zoned single-family residential since 1957, and it is surrounded primarily by single-family dwellings. In early 1969 and again on later occasions, plaintiff asked the City of Royal Oak to rezone its land for two-family residential use. Although the city planner recommended granting plaintiff's request, the planning commission and city council denied it.
Plaintiff then filed this action, alleging that defendant's zoning ordinance was unconstitutional as applied to its property because it was confiscatory, arbitrary, and failed to reasonably further the public health, safety, and general welfare. At trial, plaintiff introduced testimony showing that at the time of purchase, the land could reasonably be used for single-family homes. In recent years, however, conditions have drastically changed. There is no longer a market in Royal Oak for homes of the size of those in the area surrounding plaintiff's property. In addition, skyrocketing inflation and rising interest rates have made it impossible to profitably construct single-family dwellings on plaintiff's land. Plaintiff introduced evidence showing that because the land needs sewers, pavement, water lines, fire hydrants and land balancing, the cost of constructing single-family, 1200-square-foot dwellings (the average size of the dwellings in the vicinity of plaintiff's land) on it would be over $41,000 for each house. Yet, such homes could not be sold for more than $28,000.
A witness for defendant initially testified that he could sell a 1200-square-foot house on plaintiff's property for $45,000. He later admitted, however, that he had recently sold a 1600-square-foot house in Royal Oak for only $32,900. He also admitted that a prospective purchaser would not pay $45,000 for a 1200-square-foot ...