State ex rel. Willey v. Griggs

In State ex rel. Willey v. Griggs, 89 Ariz. 70, 71, 358 P.2d 174, 174 (1960), the State Highway Commission used a separate statute, A.R.S. 18-155(D) (repealed 1974), to take the landowner's property, which was needed for a state highway. 89 Ariz. at 71-72, 358 P.2d at 174-75. Pursuant to the statute, the Commission could take property by first issuing a resolution establishing the necessity of doing so and then filing a condemnation complaint in the superior court. See id. at 72, 358 P.2d at 175. The statute specified that property owners would be paid the value of their land as of the date the resolution was issued, unless the complaint was not filed within two years of the resolution, in which case the property owners would be paid the value of their land as of the date of the summons. Id. The statute also specified that the Commission could dismiss the action before payment and pay nothing. Id. The Commission in Griggs passed such a resolution in February of 1959, at which time the subject property had a value of $ 21,000. Id. Six months later, when the State filed the condemnation action, the property had increased in value to $ 26,000. Id. Because the condemnation action was filed within two years, however, the statute specified that the landowners would be paid the earlier amount - $ 21,000 - for their property. Id. The superior court nevertheless awarded the property owners the value of the land at the time the condemnation action was filed. Id. The State filed an appeal, noting that in awarding the landowners the greater value the superior court had failed to comply with the statute. Id. at 72-73, 358 P.2d at 175. The supreme court affirmed, holding that the statute was unconstitutional because (among other reasons) the Commission had two years in which it could condemn the land without the landowner receiving any increase in value over the interim period. See id. at 76, 358 P.2d at 177. Griggs therefore held that it is not consonant with the requirements of the state constitution for a condemning agency to be able to freeze the value of property over time while determining when and whether it will take the property. Thus, Griggs actually undermines, rather than supports, Scottsdale's argument. Just as the State was prohibited from freezing the value of the Griggs' land by passing a resolution and waiting for up to two years to actually take possession of the land, Scottsdale is likewise prohibited from freezing the value of CGP's land by separating the date of the summons from the date that it actually takes the property.