High court sends Albuquerque property dispute back to trial court

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Thursday, the state Supreme Court decided that a district court in 2015 wrongly dismissed an inverse condemnation claim from a property owner seeking compensation from the city of Albuquerque for loss of rental income on land used for freight truck terminals.

According to a press release the property owner, SMP Properties, argued that it lost rental payments because a trucking company, SAIA Motor Freight Line, terminated its lease and vacated the property in 2012 after getting word of the planned land condemnation from the city’s right-of-way coordinator roughly a year before the property was acquired by the city. This was the first SMP had heard of the condemnation plan.

The court concluded that due to unresolved factual issues in the case, it needed to head back to trial court. Such issues include whether a city employee’s actions before the actual condemnation damaged the value of the property and, if so, how that should be assessed for purposes of compensating the landowner.

The district court ordered SMP to receive a payout of $143,850 for compensation of the condemned property but the sum did not reflect the loss of the SAIA lease.

Because of the condemnation process, the city acquired a 30-foot-wide, 0.36-acre strip across from the SMP property to connect an existing street to a new road along the North Diversion Channel. The press release states that if SAIA remained under lease at the property, the city’s acquisition would have required teh trucking company to spend between $50,000 and $60,000 to remove fuel tanks as well as loose full use of four terminal doors they were leasing.

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals that the dispute should go back to district court. The court did, however, disagree with the Court of Appeals on the method for assessing potential damages to SMP’s property.

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