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The Preeminent Domain

An Eminent Domain and Land Use Blog

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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
July 3, 2019

Court Confirms Agricultural Land Tax Does Not Rest on Economic Activity

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.  
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
May 24, 2019

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Says No Taking, Even if Your Business Closes

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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
February 1, 2019

No Attorney Fees for Billboard Companies and Other Lessons Learned

DOT
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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
January 18, 2019

Foxconn and Eminent Domain: Using Blighted Property Designations to Redevelop Land

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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
July 23, 2018

2017 Wis. Act 243 Makes Costly Changes to Wisconsin’s Condemnation and Relocation Statutes

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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
April 16, 2018

Loss in Value Caused by Police Power Not Recoverable

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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
March 7, 2018

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 ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
November 2, 2017

Kelo and Foxconn – How Soon They Forget

Private property may only be condemned if it is being taken for a “public use” according to the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause. In 2005, in a universally unpopular opinion, the SCOTUS decided that the taking of private property by a city for redevelopment by a private entity was a “public use.” In Kelo, the New London (Connecticut) Development Corporation (“NLDC”)—a private non-profit organization established to promote development planning in the city—produced  a development plan to revitalize the Fort Trumbull area of... Read More ›
Steve Streck
Steve Streck
October 31, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument 3/20 in Murr v. Wisconsin

The U.S. Supreme Court is gearing up to hear oral argument in a Wisconsin regulatory taking case, Murr v. Wisconsin, on Monday, March 20. Murr involves a family cabin on the shores of the St. Croix River in northwestern Wisconsin. We previously discussed this case last year. SCOTUSblog has an excellent issue summary and argument preview here. Unfortunately, the only way to listen to the argument live is to get a spot in the courtroom.  You can get transcripts on the same day as argument. Audio is posted at the... Read More ›
Sara Beachy
Sara Beachy
October 31, 2017