City of Surrey ordered to pay additional $200K to car dealers whose land it expropriated
A B.C. Supreme Court justice has ordered the City of Surrey to pay more than $200,000 to the former owners of a car dealership the city partially expropriated back in 2012.
In a decision delivered Tuesday in New Westminster, Justice Nitya Iyer ruled that the city had not sufficiently compensated the former landowners for the negative impact of the construction project for which the land was expropriated on land's value for future use.
The city also failed to adequately compensate the owners for the dealership's losses during the construction period, according to Iyer's decision.
The justice rejected the owners' other claims, however, including a claim that the expropriation had "forced" them to sell the remaining property for more $6 million in 2013, and that they therefore should be entitled to compensation for the property's increase in market value since the sale.
The property in question is located on the Langley Bypass near 196 Street. The land was undeveloped when Dan and Reuben Springman purchased it with their friend Larry Visco in 1997.
The Springman brothers ran a car dealership on the property through October 2013, at which point they sold the land and the business to the owner of a nearby dealership.
The city appropriated part of the land in March 2012 for the construction of an overpass, and it provided compensation to the owners for both the land itself and the disruption to the business.
Surrey paid nearly $270,000 for the portion of the land it acquired, plus temporary and permanent rights of way. The city also entered an agreement with the Springman brothers' dealership to compensate them for their lost revenue during construction.
These payments varied from month to month and were calculated based on the difference between the company's actual revenue for a given month and the revenue it had earned during the same month the previous year.
In all, Surrey paid more than $760,000 to the Springman brothers' company through these "float payments," according to Iyer's decision.
The brothers and Visco each filed lawsuits against the city claiming that the compensation they received for the land was insufficient, that they should have received additional funds for "injurious affection" of the land that remained after the expropriation, and that they had been unable to benefit from the continued increase in the land's value between 2013 and 2019 because of the city's actions.
The current value of the property is estimated to be more than $7.4 million, according to BC Assessment.
The brothers also claimed that their company was entitled to additional compensation for the disturbance caused by construction, and that the company suffered ongoing losses between 2013 and 2019 because they were forced to sell.
In her decision, Iyer rejected both of the claims for ongoing damages on the grounds that Visco and the Springman brothers sold the property voluntarily.
"I sympathize with the anxiety, uncertainty and disruption the Springman brothers had to endure over the course of the overpass project," Iyer wrote in her decision.
"I accept that they were frustrated and exhausted. However, that does not make the sale a forced sale. Even if I were to find that the plaintiffs sold the property at less than fair market value (which I do not), it was because they did not have the appetite or energy to maximize their economic interests, not because of the expropriation."
Iyer also rejected the claim that the city had not adequately compensated the owners for the land it expropriated, but she accepted the brothers' and Visco's assertion that the expropriations had lowered the value of the remaining land.
As a result, she awarded them $154,114 for the "injurious affection" claim. She also concluded that the brothers' business was entitled to $65,182 in additional compensation for their losses attributable to the overpass project.