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Solana Land Co. v. Murphey

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 17, 1949

SOLANA LAND CO.
v.
MURPHEY et ux

The judgment of the lower court is reversed with directions to amend the judgment so as to make the condemned right-of-way appurtenant to section 7.

Richard H. Chambers, of Tucson, attorney for appellant.

Darnell, Robertson & Holesapple, of Tucson, attorneys for appellees.

Udall, Justice. La Prade, C. J., Stanford and De Concini, JJ., and Johnson, Superior Court Judge, concur. Phelps, J., being the trial judge, the Honorable J. Mercer Johnson, Judge of the Superior Court of Pima County, was called to sit in his stead.

OPINION

Udall, Justice.

Page 594

[69 Ariz. 120] Plaintiff, Solana Land Company, a property holding corporation (principally owned by the Martin Schwerin family of Tucson, Arizona), is appealing from a judgment it obtained against John W. Murphey and Helen G. Murphey, his wife, defendants (appellees), condemning an easement for

Page 595

road purposes over certain real property owned by the latter. Plaintiff maintains that the judgment procured is not clear and should be amended to provide that the easement granted be appurtenant to all of plaintiff's land in section 7. The defendants by their cross-appeal contend it was error for the trial court to have granted plaintiff any easement.

This action was brought under the eminent domain statute (Sec. 27-904, A.C.A.1939) allowing condemnation of a "private way of necessity." The plaintiff company owns all of section 7, township 13 south, range 14 east of the G. & S. R. B. & M. in Pima County, Arizona. The defendants own substantially all of sections 6, 8 and 18 of the same township, which sections bound section 7 on the north, east and south. These sections lie in the westerly part of the Catalina Foothills district which forms a part of the northern suburban area of the City of Tucson. None of the land in question is agricultural and as grazing lands the holdings of both plaintiff and defendants are of comparatively small value. However, largely due to the development efforts of the defendants the area now is of great value in the current market as sites for exclusive homes. Practically all of section 17 in this township was subdivided and sold by defendants and many fine homes have been constructed thereon. Section 7 (plaintiff's land) is wholly undeveloped and, with some slight exceptions, this is true of defendants' three adjoining sections -- 6, 8 and 18.

The purpose of plaintiff's action was to condemn a private way of necessity (310 feet long from east to west and 60 feet in width from north to south) in the extreme southwest corner of defendants' section 8, in order to obtain an appurtenant easement of ingress and egress for plaintiff's section 7 to connect with a county highway known as Camino Miravel which crosses into section 8 at this point.

The principal paved road serving this immediate area is an extension of North Campbell Avenue (a main Tucson thoroughfare) which runs northerly across sections 17, 8 and 5 to the base of the Catalina Mountains. Camino Miravel branches off from Campbell Avenue within the north half of section 17, crossing into section 8 at a point 310 feet east of the section corner common to sections 7, 8, 17 and 18 and continuing thence northerly across section 8, but not touching plaintiff's section 7 at any [69 Ariz. 121] point. Both of these roads were originally constructed at considerable expense by defendants. Later, however, but long prior to the filing of this action these roads were legally dedicated and are now properly established county highways with Pima County assuming the burden of maintenance. It was shown that there is one other possible route via Rudasill Road that might be used by plaintiff in getting to and from its land. About one mile west of section 7 is Oracle Road, otherwise known as the Tucson-Florence Highway, which is paved and runs north and south. Dedicated along the east-west center line of section 12 of the adjoining township, from Oracle Road to the west boundary of plaintiff's section 7, is Rudasill Road. It has been improved from Oracle Road to a point within about one-third mile of the west boundary of section 7, where the improvement stops and the road has no existence on the ground beyond that point. The unimproved but dedicated portion crosses several small arroyos, hence it cannot now be traversed in an automobile, though the trial court found after a personal inspection on the ground, that it could readily be made passable at a very nominal expense. It is thus apparent that section 7 was, for all practical purposes, landlocked at the time this action was brought, as there was no way, without trespassing, that one could have ingress and egress to plaintiff's land by automobile. Defendants also urge that North First Avenue might be extended up the range line (west boundary of sections 18 and 7) to furnish plaintiff a means of egress and ingress, however, this proposed route is as yet non-existent and could only be established at considerable expense.

While no findings of fact were requested or made, still it is apparent from the views expressed by the court, as the trial progressed, that it was of the opinion the Rudasill-Oracle Road route ...


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