Price for land brings lawsuit - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Price for land brings lawsuit

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Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2006 5:20 am | Updated: 3:09 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Scottsdale is being sued by property owners who say they weren’t paid enough when the city condemned their land.

CGP-Aberdeen, a partnership between Crown Golf Properties and Aberdeen Investments, owned 50 acres of undeveloped desert near The Golf Club Scottsdale, north of Rio Verde Drive and 122nd Street.

Scottsdale condemned the land in January 2003 to make it part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, said Bruce Washburn, an assistant city attorney.

However, the city did not actually take possession of the land until July 2004. By that time, the value of the land had increased beyond the $4 million the city paid, the owners claim.

The owners had constructed a golf course near the property in that time, and property values shot up Valleywide, said Dale Zeitlin, attorney for CGP-Aberdeen.

“The city waited 18 months to pay them some money,” he said. “They didn’t think the payment was just compensation or fair.”

The landowners already have tried to sue for their money and lost in an earlier court case. In a condemnation case, Arizona statute says the property is valued on the date of the issuance of the court summons, not on the date the land is actually seized, Washburn said.

“There’s no question the city complied with the statute,” Washburn said.

But the landowners filed the second suit Jan. 25 in Maricopa County Superior Court, claiming the Arizona law is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth and 14th amendments, Zeitlin said. The Fifth Amendment states that no private property shall be taken for public use without just compensation. The 14th Amendment says that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

The landowners are having the property appraised, and Zeitlin said he expected the case to go before a jury in the fall.

“It should be an entertaining and interesting case that sets a legal precedent,” he said.

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