Columus Dispatch, September 29, 2007
When Canal Winchester offered Richard "Pete" Stebelton $9,249 for a 1-mile strip of his property, Stebelton thought the payment was too low.
This month, a Franklin County Common Pleas jury decided the village should pay the farmer and used-car dealer $595,625.
Canal Winchester wants the land to link a bike path between Rager Road and the village swimming pool. It used eminent domain to take a strip of Stebelton’s 80-acre property and hired an appraiser who determined that the $9,249 would be enough compensation.
Stebelton was the only one of eight property owners who didn’t agree to sell his land to the village for the path. Instead, he went to court to challenge the village’s valuation.
The jury decided Sept. 20 that the land the village wants, along the northern edge of his property, is worth $37,000. But the jury also decided that by taking it, the village was closing off a back entrance to the property and damaging the value of the rest of Stebelton’s land by $558,625.
-In many jurisdictions, even after the jury=s verdict, the condemning authority can withdraw from a condemnation. This offers great risk to owners who may face a second condemnation, with not as decent results.
In this situation, it looks like Mr. Stebelton had the opportunity to face a community which may walk away, but at least pay his fees. The process can be maddening indeed!