METC’s Filing of Coldwater Condemnation Suits Reflect the Benefits of Retaining Counsel Early in the Process
Friday, September 28, 2018 at 9:08AM
Clark Hill

As a result of my pre-suit negotiations, court filings by METC, an entity related to ITC, include substantively modified easements that are less onerous on property owners.

I advocate that property owners retain legal counsel as early as possible in the acquisition process and that those owners join a group of similarly minded owners with one attorney in order to leverage their negotiating power. A group of owners of agricultural property owners in the Coldwater area did just that and the benefits of having done so are evident from recent court filings.

The easements that METC sought during preliminary, voluntary negotiations were substantially broader than those sought now. The original versions of the easement sought the right to construct unlimited numbers of transmission lines of unlimited size. In other words, while METC currently plans to construct only a single, relatively smaller line (compared to some of its other transmission installations), METC was landbanking the ability to install new or larger lines in the future. And METC would not be required to pay additional just compensation as a result.

I informed METC’s attorneys that I would likely challenge such an acquisition. In response, METC modified their easement significantly. METC has limited itself to constructing “one single circuit 138kV electric transmission line.”

Many of my clients are longtime residents and multi-generational farmers of their properties. It is far more likely that agricultural property owners are looking toward the future and seeking to protect and preserve their properties for the benefits of future generations. The property owners who retained me have done so by preventing METC from constructing new or larger lines without acquisition of new property rights and the payment of additional just compensation.

If you are the owner of agricultural property that is being subjected to eminent domain, you may wish to review this blog post that discusses just compensation issues for farmers. This blog post is specific to ITC. Finally, this blog post discusses the ability to challenge utility takings. While the article was written about pipelines, the same legal principles apply to above ground utility lines.

If a utility company is seeking property rights from you, please feel free to contact me.

Article originally appeared on Clark Hill Property Owner Condemnation Services (
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