from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Lars G.
landowner appeals a condemnation award of $25, 000 for a
partial taking of his property. AFFIRMED.
Wallace L. Taylor of Law Offices of Wallace L. Taylor, Cedar
Rapids, and S.P. DeVolder of The DeVolder Law Firm, Norwalk,
W. Goodwin of Goodwin Law Office, P.C., Ames, and Scott C.
Peterson, City Attorney, North Liberty, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., Tabor, J., and Mahan, S.J.
County landowner Gary Weinman appeals a jury's verdict
requiring the City of North Liberty to pay him $25, 000 as
compensation for easements across his 70-acre property to
supply sanitary sewer lines to a new high school. Because the
city's expert witness, an experienced appraiser,
presented substantial evidence to support the verdict, we
property may not be taken for public use without just
compensation. See U.S. Const. amend. V; Iowa Const.
art. I, § 18. Eminent domain is the term used for the
power of a government entity to take private property for a
public use without the owner's consent. Comes v. City
of Atlantic, 601 N.W.2d 93, 95 (Iowa 1999). Cities are
conferred the right of eminent domain under Iowa Code section
6A.4(6) (2015). Iowa Code chapter 6B sets out the procedures
for the condemnation of private property under eminent
case concerns the city's condemnation efforts for a
temporary construction easement (1.1 acres for four months)
and a permanent easement (0.75 acre) on Gary Weinman's
70.55 acres. In February 2015, the compensation
commission decided the city should pay Weinman $75, 000 in
damages. See Iowa Code § 6B.14. The city
appealed to the district court, claiming the damages were
excessive. See id. § 6B.18. Weinman requested a
jury trial, and the matter was tried de novo to the jury as
an ordinary proceeding on September 6 and 7,
2016. See id. § 6B.21 (ordinary
proceeding); see also Wilkes v. Iowa State Highway
Comm'n, 172 N.W.2d 790, 792-93 (Iowa 1969) (stating
appeal from condemnation commission's award is de novo).
only issue to be resolved in the city's appeal to the
district court was "the amount of damages owed by [the
city] to the landholder due to the taking." Johnson
Propane, Heating & Cooling, Inc. v. Iowa Dep't of
Transp., N.W.2d, 2017 WL 836826, at *3 (Iowa 2017).
Here, where only a portion of Weinman's property was
taken by the city for the easements, the damages are measured
as "the difference between the fair market value of the
whole property before acquisition and the fair market value
of the property remaining after the acquisition."
trial, the jury heard evidence, without objection, from the
city's expert, Dennis Cronk. Cronk, who is a certified
appraiser with almost twenty years of experience, testified
appraisals involve "a range of value. It's not an
exact science, and when we do this type of work, we try and
err towards the high end of the range. We're stuck with
the market evidence we have . . . and resolve ambiguities in
favor of the property owner." After explaining four
comparable properties, Cronk opined the difference in value
of Weinman's overall property before and after the
easements was $25, 000. Weinman's counsel conducted an
extensive cross-examination, including the use of a
hypothetical that led to a calculated difference of $98, 348
in value before and after the taking. But Cronk opined that
value was "not the measure of damages" because
"we take the value of the whole before and
after." (Emphasis added.) He testified:
You can't just pick out which portions of the property
you want to put a value on and say that value is the same
across the entire- every single acre on that property.
That's an overall value of [seventy] acres taking into
account all the positives and negatives of the entire
defense case, Weinman discussed photographic exhibits showing
features of his property, including his house, garage, barn,
a pond, wooded areas, restored prairie, and Muddy Creek,
which ran parallel to the easement. Weinman also presented
evidence from Kevin Hanick, a real estate broker and
developer. While acknowledging he was not a certified
appraiser or a civil engineer, Hanick opined the easement
impacted the entire ten-acre area in the northeast portion of
Weinman's property. Having heard the evidence for both
sides, the jury returned a $25, 000 verdict, and the district
court entered judgment on the verdict.
now appeals, raising a single issue-did substantial evidence
support the jury's verdict? The city's appeal was
tried to the district court de novo, as an ordinary
proceeding. See Iowa Code § 6B.21; Burnham
v. City of West Des Moines, 568 N.W.2d 808, 810 (Iowa
1997). We review ordinary proceedings for the correction of
errors at law. Iowa R. App. P. 6.907. If a jury's verdict
is supported by substantial evidence in the record, we are
bound by it. See Beeman v. Manville Corp. Asbestos
Disease Comp. Fund, 496 N.W.2d 247, 254 (Iowa 1993).
Because an award of damages in a condemnation action is
"peculiarly within the province of the trier of fact,
" we will not "interfere absent a showing the award
was wholly unfair or unreasonable." See Sunrise