Category: Articles

Crown Trucking is right on this one!

Crown Enterprise desires to build its own “truck hub” near a General Motors plant. The community maintains a competing project. Therefore, the community is fighting the truck company.

This is not analogous to the Bridge where there is demand for additional transport between the United States and Canada. Here, this is a situation in which Mr. Maroon and Crown Enterprises properly desires to proceed and protect its own interest against the public competition.

“Rather than neutrally considering the appropriate statutory factors in evaluating Crown’s rezoning petition, the Board of Commissioners improperly considered Allen County’s financial interest in a competing real estate development and the related interest in validating the Board of Commissioners’ highly controversial decision to direct Allen County to invest in that competing real estate development,” the suit says.

The “competing” development is identified as the county-owned, shovel-ready Stonebridge Business Park, where NorthPoint Development of Kansas City, Missouri, had purchased land and options with plans for another trucking facility. Stonebridge is across Lafayette Center Road, just south of GM.

The suit also contends that the denial was not based on law and that it “improperly considered arguments by opponents,” neighbors of the project, who should not have had input because they did not live close enough to the project.

The commissioners also improperly ignored county planning documents; the plan commission’s previous approval of the project; and a written commitment from Crown to mitigate neighbors’ concerns, the suit contends.”

Click here to read more.

Acquisition By Plans Not Acceptable in North Carolina

North Carolina has ruled that the “Maps” for future acquisitions simply are not acceptable. Holding onto properties for twenty plus years while not having any full knowledge of how to proceed through the acquisition so affects properties that the North Carolina Supreme Court held that compensability should be applied.

“‘The state of North Carolina is not using valid regulatory laws,” Bryant said. “That means they took the properties and now they are going to have to pay for those properties.”

The Supreme Court ruling said compensation would be on a case-by-case basis and would depend on the market value of properties before and after they were put under the Map Act, the state law allowing the DOT to curb development on land it plans to use for future roads.

Bryant said the ruling means the property cases will proceed like “a normal condemnation.”

Justice Paul Newby, writing for the court, said that the Map Act restricted the landowners’ ‘fundamental rights to improve, develop and subdivide their property for an unlimited amount of time.’”

Click here to read more.

Will the Great Lakes Basin Transportation Succeed?

With Norfolk Southern withdrawing from the Great Lakes Basin Transportation proposed freight line, one wonders whether the project will succeed. Norfolk Southern would have been a major user of the proposed Chicago bypass.

In all likelihood, what precipitated the bypass was the future expansion of the Illinois Tollway and its effect on the CSX terminal in Chicago.

Given Norfolk Southern has withdrawn from this process, one wonders whether the cost infrastructure can be successful and fulfilled with a much lower demand for rail utilization.

“‘Norfolk Southern has a robust route network, with multiple routes into and out of the Chicago area and also owns its own bypass route that runs directly to Kansas City,” he wrote. “For this reason, we are not inclined to think that the proposed Great Lakes Basin route would work well with our system or that we would be a user of the route.’

GLBT proposes a 278-mile freight train track, starting near Milton, Wis., and with two end points in LaPorte County, with the goal of alleviating rail congestion in Chicago. The $8 billion, privately funded track would have the capacity for 110 trains a day and its path would run through southern Lake and Porter counties.”

Click here to read more.

 

Would Eminent Domain of Coal Plants Ever Work?

In an opinion editorial in The Washington Post, Barney Gorin notes that gas-created electricity provides for thirty-four percent of our energy generation.

Could the energy source be replaced? Yes. Would it be a very expensive proposition to simply close coal plants, and even more emphatic “yes.”

The reality is that simply acquiring coal plants through the eminent domain process in order to close a coal plant is not a satisfactory result. If the plants are to be closed, it is more likely premised upon the safety issues and utilization of the police power.

“In his June 4 op-ed, “Here’s how we leave coal behind,” Stephen L. Kass told us that eminent domain is a fine way to shut down coal companies. All the government has to do is take the land and pay “fair, market-based compensation.”

What a lovely, Trumpian solution. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is sure to approve. It would be just the precedent he would like to cite against the next obstinate widow like Vera Coking when he tried to take her home for only a quarter of an earlier offer.

Barney Gorin, Gaithersburg

How would Stephen L. Kass replace the 34 percent of the electricity generated in this country by coal-fired plants over a 10-year period? Many of them can be, and some are being, converted to natural gas, but not all. And some are being equipped with scrubbers. But many are not fit for either of those “fixes” because of design or age and will be left to run out their useful lives while replacement plants are built.”

Click here to read more

Stumpy Harris Feted for Fifty Years

The Orlando Sentinel wrote a short bio on Gordon “Stumpy” Harris. He is truly a local legend and an outstanding eminent domain lawyer.

Stumpy had the world at his feet, running a huge law firm. However, he chose to follow the passions of his heart and represent property owners losing their rights under the 5th Amendment.

This wonderful article about Stumpy is indeed beautiful, but it cannot fully explain what a simply neat person Stumpy is.

“Gordon “Stumpy” Harris, a local legal legend, marked 50 years of practicing law recently as he looked back on a career that included criminal defense, prosecution, founding several law firms and developing an expertise in controversial eminent domain law.”

Click here to read more.

Landowners Do Not Always Win

The Illinois Enbridge cases have created substantial publicity and hostility in the community. Because of the problems in Michigan, Enbridge is treated as the “goat” of all condemnation authorities. Realistically, once Enbridge obtains its power to acquire from the state or federal regulatory authorities, condemnation will occur.

The issue is then one solely of damages. Although people were complaining in the Bloomington, Illinois area, the judge excluded testimony. On appeal, there is the likely chance that the decision will be reversed because of the court’s refusal to allow the owners to testify. However, one thing is clear in all litigation and that is there is no certainty of success for anyone.

http://www.pantagraph.com/judge-sets-property-values-in-enbridge-cases/article_5a8c4a7c-64ed-5763-9e10-710cc5e4db94.html

“Last week, Lawrence ruled landowners would not be allowed to testify, and on Wednesday he barred three experts for the landowners from testifying, essentially removing all potential evidence in the landowners’ case. The judge’s rulings were based on his opinion that views from the landowners and experts on the hazards of pipelines were not relevant to the proceedings.

Tom Pliura, attorney for the landowners, said Thursday that “we respectfully disagree with the ruling and believe the landowners have a right to have the value of their property determined by a jury.”