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The Preeminent Domain

An Eminent Domain and Land Use Blog

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

Before the Border Wall is Built the Government Needs a Place to Build It

One of President Donald J. Trump’s campaign promises was to build a wall on the U.S./Mexico border.  He promised that it would be built quickly and that Mexico would pay for it.  When most people think of the costs to build the Border Wall, they think of the costs of the construction, such as the labor and materials.  What they do not think of, however, is the cost associated with acquiring the land needed for the Border Wall.  Not only... Read More ›
Michelle Martin
Michelle Martin
October 31, 2017

Wisconsin Supreme Court Sides With Transmission Line Company in Easement Dispute

The Wisconsin Supreme Court clarified a transmission line company’s rights to trim and remove trees under an easement originally recorded in 1969 in Garza v. American Transmission Co., 2017 WI 35 (April 13, 2017). In Garza, an easement was granted to the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (WPSC) in 1969 that gave WPSC the “perpetual right…to erect, maintain and operate an electric transmission line, comprising wood pole structures….”  The same easement gave WPSC the right to enter the property from time... Read More ›
Justin Lessner
Justin Lessner
October 26, 2017

Partial Obstruction of Billboard Does Not Constitute a Taking

The construction of new buildings, bridges, overpasses and other structures can impact the visibility of billboards along a roadway. When an obstruction of a billboard results from a public improvement, does the billboard company have a protected property interest that requires compensation from the government? The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently addressed this issue and held that a partial obstruction of a billboard caused by a new pedestrian overpass did not result in an unconstitutional taking of property rights. Adams Outdoor... Read More ›
Justin Lessner
Justin Lessner
October 26, 2017

Special Benefits: One Phrase, Two Meanings

Special benefits under the law are addressed in two contexts – actions involving just compensation under the eminent domain statutes (Wis. Stat. Ch. 32) and actions involving special assessments under Wis. Stat. Ch. 66. Under eminent domain law, if the landowner’s property has received a “special benefit” as a result of the public improvement, the amount of the special benefit offsets the amount of just compensation the condemnor must pay. Separately, municipalities may levy a special assessment on property benefitted... Read More ›
Michelle Martin
Michelle Martin
February 10, 2017

Landowner Loses Claim That the Condemnor Paid Him Too Much

Every once in a while, we are asked to defend a condemnor in a right-to-take action where the landowner claims he or she was paid too much money for whatever land rights were taken.  The most recent attempt to make such a claim was addressed by the Jefferson County Circuit Court in Case No. 16-CV-93.  As in every other case we are aware of, the claim was unsuccessful.  But why would the landowner make such a claim in the first... Read More ›
Steve Streck
Steve Streck
November 2, 2016

Outagamie County Flip Flops on Eminent Domain Decision

Controversy is swirling in the Appleton, Wisconsin area after Outagamie County voted in favor of using eminent domain to acquire property for a new Sheriff’s facility. Outagamie County attempted to purchase the property, but the property owner accepted a rival offer from J.F. Ahern Co. Fire Protection.  After losing out on the bid to purchase the property, the Outagamie County Board voted 17-11 to exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire the property. The Board cited the significant cost... Read More ›
Justin Lessner
Justin Lessner
August 3, 2016