“I agree with you. But my appraiser doesn’t.” The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ended 2019 with a bang by eminent domain standards with a controversial decision in Christus Lutheran Church of Appleton v. State Department of Transportation. The case presents this question: can a condemnor ever offer a landowner too much compensation in a jurisdictional offer? According to the Christus Lutheran court, the answer is yes. Christus Lutheran is required reading for any lawyer who advises condemning authorities. Unfortunately, it’s... Read More ›
Axley attorney Sara Beachy is quoted in a recent article posted on Inside Track, discussing the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania. Knick paves the way for federal court claims in the area of eminent domain. Read the article here.
In a Turnabout, SCOTUS Now Says Federal Takings Claims are Ripe When the Government Fails to Compensate Property Owners
By Sara K. Beachy and Amy T. Harriman Overruling 34 years of precedent, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that when the government takes private property without paying just compensation, the owner has an actionable claim under the federal Takings Clause at the time of the taking. In Knick v. Township of Scott, the Court overruled a 1985 decision, Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City, which required owners to first seek compensation through state courts before filing... Read More ›
Property tax assessment law isn’t eminent domain, but it’s close enough that we stay abreast of it anyway. Check out this synopsis of a recent court of appeals case involving what constitutes an “agricultural use” for purposes of Wisconsin property tax law. You can read the whole case, Peter Ogden Family Trust of 2008 v. Bd. of Review for the Town of Delafield, here.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals decided an inverse condemnation case, Aamaans Properties, Inc. v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation,1 on December 26, 2018. Aamaans Properties, Inc. (Aamaans) owned a property on State Trunk Highway 26 with a gas station and a McDonald’s. WisDOT relocated the highway, resulting in circuitous and inconvenient access to the property. The McDonald’s closed, and Aamaans lost the property in foreclosure. Aamaans sued WisDOT for inverse condemnation, claiming that the highway relocation was a taking requiring compensation.... Read More ›
On December 20, 2018, the court of appeals issued a new eminent domain decision in The Lamar Company LLC v. WisDOT. Substantively, the case is pretty narrow. The court of appeals upheld a lower court decision denying litigation expenses (attorney fees and costs) to a billboard company whose signs were taken for a WisDOT project. Attorneys who handle WisDOT condemnation matters are highly encouraged to read the decision. There is one interesting procedural issue and a lesson to be learned... Read More ›
This article was originally posted by the State Bar of Wisconsin. The Village of Mount Pleasant recently declared a large swath of land as “blighted” property, making way for the Foxconn development. In this article, attorney Sara Beachy explains blighted property law in the context of this project. The 2,800-acre, four square-mile future home of Foxconn has now been designated as “blighted.” The blighted zone, also designated as a redevelopment area, includes thriving farms and at least one family’s newly-built... Read More ›
Co-authored by Attorney Micheal Hahn Governor Walker recently signed 2017 Wis. Act 243 into law, making the most significant changes to Wisconsin’s condemnation statutes in decades. Act 243, which took effect April 5, 2018, has been applauded by businesses who could be displaced by public projects. But the new law will be costly to taxpayers who have to pick up the tab. Below are the top five provisions in the new law: 1. Nearly Unlimited “Project Costs” for Business Relocations... Read More ›
Compensation for police power acts is a hot issue in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin court of appeals recently affirmed an order excluding evidence of a significant loss in property value caused by a relocated access point. See North Mayfair, LLC v. Department of Transportation, No. 17AP256 (Wis. Ct. App. Feb. 13, 2018) (not recommended for publication). Depending on which expert you believe, the relocation of the access point caused the property to lose between $1 million and $2.5 million in value.... Read More ›
Court of Appeals: Yes, The Statutes DO Allow Condemnors to Pay More Than the Appraised Amount for Property
In a new opinion recommended for publication, Otterstatter v. City of Watertown, the court of appeals affirmed that, yes, condemnors can pay more than the appraised amount to acquire land for public projects. The City condemned Otterstatter’s property for an airport project. Otterstatter sued the City challenging the City’s right to take his property. Otterstatter claimed that the City’s jurisdictional offer – the last, best offer and the final step before a taking – was defective because it was $30,000... Read More ›