National Eminent Domain

National Eminent Domain

Eminent Domain and Condemnation

Waldo Cancels A Virginia Visit

Posted in National Eminent Domain

Outstanding Virginia eminent domain attorney, Joe Waldo, cancelled a scheduled meeting over a planned pipeline to traverse Floyd County, Virginia. 

It is noteworthy that the decision to cancel the meeting was because the pipeline route might be moved.  This is an interesting factor given that Mr. Waldo and the owners face the changing plans of oil companies who seek to find a path of least resistance to its projects.  Potentially they find owners who bow to the pipeline company’s wishes.

Due to the pipeline route being moved out of Floyd County, the meeting with Waldo will probably be moved to another location more appropriate to affected landowners.

The decision to cancel the local meeting was based on attendance at the landowners meeting Thursday night at Floyd Country Store. Approximately 40 people filled an upstairs room at the Store, but several people attending were from Montgomery and Roanoke counties.

The Fateful End of Citizens District Councils?

Posted in National Eminent Domain

Citizens District Councils have been a basic part of almost every State’s blighted areas Rehabilitation Acts.  These Acts were initiated in the 1930′s and 1940′s to clear blight in major cities.  Michigan’s Act was enacted in 1945.

The whole notion of a Citizens District Council was one in which local community business people and residents were permitted to voice their feelings about a blight clearance project.  Frequently, our local governmental officials will take a position that unless the Citizens District Council supported a project, the project would not move forward.  At the same time, the elected officials’ desire to have a project created a Citizens District Council appointed by some local politicians so that the CDC would have individuals already in favor of the project.  The end result was that Citizens District Councils never provided the “grassroots” democratic action that was contemplated in the original enactment.

The councils are merely advisory, and staffed by volunteers–CDCs in Detroit haven’t received any public funding since the 1990s. They’re meant to empower citizens in designated “urban renewal zones” by providing them with a direct line to city government, and a voice in how local development progresses.

But last month—in one of his final acts as the city’s fully-empowered emergency manager–Kevyn Orr issued an order abolishing CDCs in Detroit.

CDCs “no longer align with the City’s urban renewal strategy, and, in some cases, present a barrier to the effective and efficient development of blighted areas of the City,” the order reads.

The move came as a surprise to many, and provoked mixed reactions from people involved in community-based development in Detroit.

American Transmission Company Moves Forward With Upper Peninsula Line

Posted in National Eminent Domain

In January, 2014, the Public Service Commission granted authority to the American Transmission Company to build a 138 kilovolt (Kv) overhead transmission line from Holmes Township in Menominee County to the Old Mead Substation in Delta County.

The line is intended to improve electric reliability in the Upper Peninsula.

This line will substantially affect a large number of properties from Escanaba through Menominee.  Major residences, lodges and business may be affected by the line itself.  Each case stands on its own proposition but American Transmission seems to be preparing an offer based upon the partial taking affect only.

The good faith offers have been provided to property owners in the last few weeks.  This will require owners to seek counsel.  Without a doubt, American Transmission will aggressively pursue early acquisition.

Spectra Energy Initiates Entry Process For Major Nexus Pipeline In Michigan

Posted in National Eminent Domain

Spectra Energy has sent out notices to a number of property owners requesting entry onto properties in order to investigate the soils and conduct testing for its Nexus pipeline project. 

While some say the entry is a trespass, the existing Michigan statutory framework does allow entry under certain given circumstances.  Realistically, Michigan has, to date, allowed entry before the condemnation authority has been granted.  Given there is a major California case being heard by the California Supreme Court on the question of whether an entry will be allowed prior to approval of a project, one may find the challenge occurring in Michigan in the near future.

Governor Speaks About Bridge Crossing On NPR

Posted in National Eminent Domain

The Governor provided a four-minute discussion with Craig Fahle of NPR about the bridge crossing.  The Governor stated that there has already been property acquired, probably meaning that the State of Michigan has obtained the City-owned foreclosed properties since all others are required to wait.

The reality is that without Federal engagement, the Bridge Plaza will fester and the community will be further damaged as has been the case for years.  This is not to blame the Governor, because it is not his decision to sit on funding.  At the same time, one has to wonder whether people who live in the neighborhood can reasonably survive in a neighborhood that has been subject to condemnation for the bridge since 2002 and other City projects for the 15 years prior to the announcement of the proposed bridge project.

Taking Beef To Slaughter With ET Rover

Posted in National Eminent Domain

There have been many angry articles about the ET Rover project.  This firm does represent property owners in the path of the Rover project, so we speak with biased breath.  The advice of outstanding Township lawyer, David Lattie, counsel for Atlas Township in Genesee County, Michigan, was for owners to obtain their own appraisals “early” in the process to be able to negotiate.  Realistically, this eminent domain proceeding may happen next month, but it is more likely to happen in two or three years.  Market demands will change dramatically.  Further, at this time there is no guarantee that Rover will pay the appraisal fee until such time as a serious negotiation occurs or a condemnation action is filed.  Given this, this firm is of the opinion that it is premature to obtain appraisals at this time.  There is nothing to negotiate at this early date, and who knows what is to be taken?  Perhaps there will be an oversupply of pipelines, negating the necessity for the Rover pipeline completely.

Grand Blanc View

“There is nothing we can do legally at this point except encourage people to speak out,” Lattie added. “It’s a daunting project and there is a lot of power behind their ability to create their line.” One resident asked, “Is it better to cooperate now or to fight every step of the way?”

Lattie indicated the measure of resistance will not factor into a property owner’s compensation but he recommended that in order to receive fair compensation, they might want to seek an appraisal early on—as that would make them “better armed” for any negotiations.

The township did pass two resolutions, one to oppose the project, and the other to re-route the pipeline in order to protect and preserve area wetlands and woodlands. The township has forms for residents to file regarding denying access. Residents also wanted to know how potential easements and other property changes would affect their tax bill to the township, and Kautman-Jones was unable to answer those questions as well.

Mixed Review Of Opportunity Corridor Will Have Little Affect On The Progress

Posted in National Eminent Domain

The recent challenge of the United States Public Interest Research Group to the Opportunity Corridor, holding that it was one of the ten lowest priority road projects in the country, will have little affect on the construction of the project.  The reality of the situation is that if the State determines that the funds should be used and the local community supports the use of the funds, this project will go forward.  This is not to say the project is good or bad, but rather it is to state that when the appropriation is made and the desire of the sovereign to move forward continues, there is a likelihood that the Opportunity Corridor or any other project supported by the entity with the funds, will proceed.

Bidding Process Starts For Bridge

Posted in National Eminent Domain

A recent article by Mr. Gallagher at The Detroit Free Press would lead one to believe that the bridge contracts are being let.

To the contrary, the funding must be completed. This funding will be come from the Quebec National Parliament appropriation process. The funding has not as yet occurred. However, funding is available to hire an in-house staff, a requirement if the process is to move any further forward.

Detroit Free Press

The Star quoted Michael Cautillo, the authority’s new president and CEO , as saying the proposals being sought would be a key step in helping the newly formed authority get organized.

“We look forward to having local and area businesses compete and for them to be part of this exciting project,” Cautillo said.

As reported by the Free Press recently, Cautillo has said the authority eventually will hire 40-50 staffers to help him run the project.

The future span, known as the New International Trade Crossing, is planned to connect Detroit and Windsor about two miles downstream from the Ambassador Bridge. The bridge is expected to be ready for traffic around 2020 and to create thousands of construction jobs.


American Lake Water Company Obtains Attorney Fees

Posted in National Eminent Domain

In one of the rare instances in which the government is required to pay an attorney fee in Illinois, the water consortium seeking to purchase a water company now must write a check to the utility it attempted to acquire.

 If the government is to acquire property, it must show the delegation to acquire and fulfill every statutory obligation.  In this Illinois water situation, the government failed to properly file.  It is now suffering the error because the statute provides for reimbursement of attorney fees when a dismissal occurs.

Chicago Tribune

Kansas Judge Requires An Injunction

Posted in National Eminent Domain

Each State maintains its own system of challenging an eminent domain proceeding.  Due Process requires some method in which to challenge the propriety of a taking.  Many States have a challenge to necessity or some type of motion for leave to challenge.

In Kansas, a County Judge stated that an Injunction was the only way to initiate a challenge to an eminent domain action.

An owner should carefully look at the respective State in which the property is located to determine the appropriate method for challenge.

Dodge City Daily Globe

Judge Van Z. Hampton, who is officiating the eminent domain process, said an injunction is “the only method to defend against the condemnation action,” as the eminent domain process is explicitly defined by state law and does not follow the civil trial rules of procedure. As such, the injunction is considered a separate action.

The injunction had not been assigned to a judge or date set as of Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the eminent domain claim by Mid-Kansas continues, and three appraisers were named by the court to determine fair market value of the 28 tracts of land named in the claim. Mid-Kansas is seeking the use of a 100-foot wide by 18-mile stretch of land from Spearville to North Fort Dodge to construct a 115,000-volt transmission line.

The two sides agreed to select Bucklin realtor and appraiser Spike Cossell, auctioneer Wade Kirk, also of Bucklin, and Jody Wetzel of Southwest Appraisal Service. By law, court-appointed appraisers must be qualified (but not necessarily certified) and live within Ford County.