International Transmission Company (“ITC”) is actively serving lawsuits in Taylor and Brownstown that employ eminent domain to expand the right to remove vegetation, among other things, surrounding pre-existing transmission lines.
I co-authored an article entitled An Introduction to Eminent Domain for the SRR Journal, which is published by Stout Risius Ross, a Global Financial Services Firm. To read the article, click here.
ITC is making good faith offers to expand their vegetation management rights for existing transmission lines in Taylor and Brownstown Township.
The Michigan Court of Appeals upheld my jury verdict awarding a total taking in an airport case, resulting in a $590,000 award after a $25,000 good faith offer.
I published an article in the May/June edition of Right of Way Magazine titled Broad Rights of an Avigation Easement. The article focuses upon the requirement that condemning authorities pay just compensation based upon the assumption that all rights involuntarily acquired from property owners will be used to the fullest extent of the law in the context of my trial and appellate experiences dealing with airport easements.
ITC, through its subsidiary, Michigan Electric Transmission Company, LLC ("METC"), has submitted good faith offers as a prerequisite to filing condemnation lawsuits in the Oshtemo Weeds Lake project.
Utility companies interpret generic language allowing them to “destroy” or “control” vegetation to include the use of herbicides on private property. However, neither the easements nor Michigan Law require the utility companies to provide actual notice to property owners about the use of herbicides.
Underlying fee property owners and not the United States are entitled to the fee simple interest in an abandoned railroad easement.
TRIAL COURT EXCLUDES EVIDENCE THAT ITC WOULD NOT USE ACQUIRED RIGHTS TO FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW
In a partial taking case, Michigan law requires just compensation to be awarded based upon the assumption that the agency will use its newly acquired rights to the fullest extent allowed by law. A recent trial court ruling excluded evidence that ITC sought to admit based upon this principal.
The Michigan Supreme Court refused to review a published opinion issued by the Michigan Court of Appeals upholding a successful verdict and the requirement that the County pay significant interest on the judgment.
ITC PROCEEDING WITH PRELIMINARY ACQUISITION EFFORTS DESPITE OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP APPEALING MPSC DECISION IN WEEDS LAKE PROJECT
Despite Oshtemo Township appeal an MPSC ruling favorable to International Transmission Company (“ITC”), ITC is undertaking preliminary steps to initiate condemnations.
Just compensation is owed for the impact on the entire large parcel, not merely the particularly described property from which a taking occurs.
Even if an agency seeks to acquire property rights to facilitate a project that is unquestionably a public use, property owners may challenge whether it is necessary for the agency to acquire all the rights it seeks.
Before filing an eminent domain lawsuit, an agency must submit a good faith offer identifying both the rights they seek to acquire and the just compensation being offered. Since agencies are entitled to gather information to support a good faith offer, it is best to retain counsel as soon as possible.
Oshtemo Township has announced its intention to appeal an MPSC ruling favorable to International Transmission Company (“ITC”), delaying condemnations.
International Transmission Company ("ITC") overturned an Administrative Law Judge's opinion, taking a step forward to allowing ITC to condemn necessary along a seven mile route in Oshtemo Township, Kalamazoo County.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court, relying on United States Supreme Court rulings that apply in all states, recognized that low, frequent flights over property may be compensable even if they do not deprive the owner of substantially all beneficial use of the property. This applies even when pilots deviate from established flight paths.
READ THE SMALL PRINT – JUST COMPENSATION IS CALCULATED BY ASSUMING THE AGENCY WILL USE ALL ACQUIRED RIGHTS
Property owners must fully understand the rights being acquired from them to avoid nasty surprises later. In some instances, property owners can reduce the impact of onerous easements.
MICHIGAN LAW ENTITLES HOMEOWNERS TO SUBSTANTIAL BENEFITS IN ADDITION TO PAYMENT OF JUST COMPENSATION
If people are forced to move from their home by condemnation, they may be entitled to additional benefits including payment of 125% of just compensation, a payment to offset future property tax increases, and moving benefits. Property owners are always entitled to reimbursement of reasonable expert fees and generally entitled to reimbursement of their attorney fees.