Category: Articles

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.

“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.”

Arkansas Congressional Delegation Feigns Interest in Controlling FERC

An Arkansas Congressional delegation of two senators and four congressmen wrote a letter to the Department of Energy challenging the statutory enactment of the Energy Policy Act.

Rather than sending a letter, the Delegation would be far better off obtaining relief in the form of statutory modification. However, the lip service provided by the Delegation will at least put them in good standing with the locals until the locals realize nothing will occur to protect them until legislation is passed.

“The Department of Energy’s use of eminent domain with a private third-party company to construct an interstate electrical power line has been opposed by the entire Arkansas congressional delegation on the grounds of state’s rights and private property rights.In a nine-page letter to Department of Energy Ernest Moniz on Monday, Arkansas’ two senators and four congressmen state Section 1222 in the 2005 Energy Policy Act should not apply to Houston-based Clean Line Energy’s proposal to build a 700-mile high-voltage, direct-current transmission line through Arkansas from wind turbine farms in west Oklahoma and Kansas.U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton — along with U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman — are asking Moniz to address their detailed concerns about the federal government’s possible “unprecedented partnership” with a third party to construct the electrical transmission project through Arkansas.“This Project does not appear to meet the statutory requirements of Section 1222, and we believe a state-level review of many serious concerns is necessary,” the delegation letter states. “Therefore, the Department should not approve the use of Section 1222 to carry out the Project.” – See more at:

Is Fort Collins Development Fair?


While some plan on having a new and modern Foothills Mall replacing the older buildings and would argue that the new development will make everything "pretty"; others wonder whether the basic rights for property owners any longer exist.

Simply because the owners are Christy Sports and Sears rather than Nieman-Marcus and Sports Authority should not give new right to the government to acquire. Rather, the right is provided by the police power, and the State must determine its own police power utilization.

Developers of the 77-acre Foothills Mall will nearly scrape the property clean before a new reconfigured and trendy shopping center rises from the dirt, according to plans filed with the city of Fort Collins planning department.

Nearly every square inch of retail and restaurant space surrounding the mall, including storefronts along College Avenue, will be leveled as redevelopment of the aging shopping center moves forward. That means the buildings housing the Corner Bakery, Talbots, Tres Margaritas, the former Mervyn’s department store, 93,000 square feet of the mall itself, as well as The Shops, The Plaza and The Commons at Foothills, all will be gone, clearing the slate for new retailers, restaurants, a movie theater, a grocery store and public gathering spots.

Two parcels remain in negotiations — the building at the corner of Foothills Parkway and College Avenue that now houses Christy Sports, and Sears, the lone anchor remaining from the original mall built nearly 40 years ago.

The fate of the businesses operating in the buildings slated for demolition are still largely up in the air as mall owners negotiate with 120 individual retailers and restaurants. Some likely will close their doors. Others, like the Corner Bakery, which opened only a year ago, will move to new spaces in or surrounding the enclosed mall, said representatives of Walton Foothills Holdings VI LLC, the company created by Alberta Development Partners and affiliates of Walton Street Capital, which purchased the mall in July.

An Attempt to Find an Eminent Domain Alternative


Mayor David Claunch, of Belmont Village, Texas, has provided an article in which he explains how a community will attempt to acquire land without eminent domain proceedings.

Trading benefits in lieu of cash is a viable alternative. Very rarely do communities look for this kind of process, and even fewer are successful in finding an alternative. But the attempt in some situations is worthwhile.

Other larger cities would perhaps tackle this problem with their checkbook – by just buying or condemning each property and compensating the owners accordingly. But that’s an expensive way to solve the problem, and it’s unlikely that the city of West Lake Hills could afford to approach it that way.

We’re trying a different approach: We’re asking the property owners to give us the ROW in exchange for certain development incentives. I believe that a large number of property owners will respond favorably to this approach. We’re already seeing those responses. But inevitably, it’s likely that we will need to purchase some of the ROW – or possibly use our power of eminent domain to condemn it.

Regardless, I’m firmly committed to doing everything I can to negotiate good outcomes for everyone involved. I am confident that we’ll get there. But I could use your help.

We’ve already begun contacting property owners about the ROW acquisition, and I am meeting with many of them in the coming weeks to discuss their specific concerns. If you know any of these property owners, it would be helpful for you to let them know how you feel about the project – how important it is to improve public safety and ease congestion. Encourage them to work with us on this common goal. It takes a village.

Flood Control in Minot


North and South Dakota were overwhelmed by the problem of flood control. Given the topography along the rivers, the flooding issue has increased over the last ten to fifteen years in the two States.

Minot passed flood control ordinances providing severe limitations on the future use of property. Properties effectively will lose much of their value at the end of their use. Yet, without flood control ordinances, the acquisition of flood insurance is well near impossible. This leaves owners in a Catch 22 situation.–cons-of-flood-elevation-change.html?nav=5010

For flooded Minot homeowners still struggling to recover, buyout money from federal hazard mitigation funds could be a blessing.

For flooded homeowners who don’t wish to sell or relocate, the mitigation money not only is unnecessary but the strings attached may seem onerous. Flood insurance requirements, restrictive building codes and residential lots that would forever be vacant are a few of the reasons for taking a pass on the federal money and on the expanded flood-plain designation that is required to get those dollars.

Too Much Water, Too Little Water



House Speaker Joe Straus says tackling the current shortage and growing demand for drinking water is the biggest problem facing Texas today. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has floated the idea of starting a Texas Water Development Bank with $1 billion from Rainy Day Fund.

There is no doubt that Texas is in dire need of a well-funded water plan, and lawmakers on both Republicans and Democrats appear ready to do something this year. Part of the impetus comes from experiencing the worst single-year drought in Texas history in 2011. The rest comes from the realization Texas isn’t ready for the next one.

"I think it’s very encouraging that the discussion is beginning now, and in advance of the session, to address one of the issues that we absolutely have to seriously address," Straus told The Associated Press in an interview.

The growing water problem is a byproduct of the state’s economic success. The state’s leaders like to brag about how Texas attracts jobs and people to move here and the state demographer estimates that Texas’s population is expected to grow from 25 million in 2010 to 55 million in 2050. That’s a lot more thirsty people.

All too frequently, there is not enough potable drinking water in many communities. At the same time, floods destroy property.

Texas is meeting with a very serious issue on the subject, trying to fathom a huge expenditure against fiscal responsibility. This is not an easy situation.