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Gateway United Methodist Church of Gulfport v. Mississippi Transp. Comm'n

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 23, 2014

GATEWAY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF GULFPORT, MISSISSIPPI, APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION, APPELLEE

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY SPECIAL COURT OF EMINENT DOMAIN. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/16/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. GASTON H. HEWES JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: APPELLEE GRANTED RIGHT OF IMMEDIATE TITLE AND POSSESSION OF PROPERTY; APPELLANT AWARDED JUST COMPENSATION IN THE AMOUNT OF $46,450 FOR ACQUISITION OF ITS PROPERTY.

FOR APPELLANT: VIRGIL G. GILLESPIE.

FOR APPELLEE: CHRISTOPHER M. HOWDESHELL.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR. ISHEE, J., NOT PARTICIPATING.

OPINION

Page 901

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - EMINENT DOMAIN

BARNES, J.

¶1. The Mississippi Transportation Commission (MTC) filed a " Complaint to Condemn" in the Special Court of Eminent Domain in Harrison County, Mississippi, against Gateway United Methodist Church (Gateway) in Gulfport, Mississippi. The suit was initiated because MTC was unable to reach an agreement with Gateway for the acquisition of .12 acres of land along a sight flare for the improvement of an intersection at United States Highway 49 and South Swan Road. The special court granted MTC the right of immediate title and possession of the property at issue under Mississippi Code Annotated section 11-27-83 (Rev. 2004). After discovery was conducted, MTC filed a motion in limine and supplemental motion in limine to preclude any testimony on damages to the remainder of the property based upon restrictions of access along the sight flare. The court granted the supplemental motion in limine, and a non-jury trial occurred. The court entered a judgment consistent with MTC's statement of values, finding just compensation for the acquisition of the property in the amount of $46,450. From this judgment, and the order granting the motion in limine, Gateway appealed. Finding no error, we affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. In December 1990, Gateway purchased a 5.7 acre parcel of property located on the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 49 and South Swan Road in Gulfport, Mississippi.[1] The church building and its facilities are located on the eastern side of the property, accessed by South Swan Road.[2] On September 29, 2011, MTC filed " quick take" eminent-domain proceedings against Gateway in Harrison County, Mississippi. MTC desired immediate title and possession of .12 acres of property for safety improvements to the intersection of Highway 49 and South Swan Road. A plat entered into evidence shows an area designated " no access" runs across a diagonal portion of the western boundary of the property along Highway 49, which is the

Page 902

" sight flare" for the intersection of Highway 49 and South Swan Road.[3]

¶3. In November 2011, in response to an ore tenus motion by MTC, the special court issued an order granting MTC the right of immediate title and possession of the property. MTC deposited funds of $169,500 in a court registry for compensation and damages determined by a court-appointed appraiser, pending resolution of the matter. Gateway claims any access to Highway 49 has now been taken by MTC, and all access to the church property must be from South Swan Road. Gateway contends it acquired access to Highway 49 when it bought the property, and before the taking by MTC, it had full rights to access the highway for 357.45 feet. After the taking, Gateway claims it has only 57.5 feet in the northwest corner of the property for access to Highway 49, which does not meet MTC specifications for an entrance to the property, or county requirements for the width of a street or right-of-way.[4]

¶4. After discovery concluded, in November 2012 and January 2013 respectively, MTC filed a motion in limine and supplemental motion in limine to preclude any testimony on damages to the remainder of the property based upon restrictions of access along the no-access sight flare.[5] In his deposition, Allen Purvis, Gateway's expert real-estate appraiser, testified the property suffered $151,054 in damages as a result of MTC taking the no-access sight flare. In the motion, MTC argued that Gateway had ...


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