Author: OwnersCounsel

February 11th, 2022 — In OCA Blog

OCA Member Michael Faherty Defends Against Taking of Historic Outbound Station in Pennsylvania

An historic station that was built as the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Conshohocken Station circa 1890 is now the subject of a taking by the Borough of Conshohocken for alleged park purposes.  Although passenger service at the Outbound Station ceased in 1962, after the property was purchased by Joe and Barb Collins and lovingly restored, it was used for nearly 30 years as an antique store, and more recently, leased to the Couch Tomato Cafe. OCA Emeritus Member Michael Faherty recently wrote an open letter to the Borough challenging their right to take the property by eminent domain on several grounds, including a failure to identify a specific use for the property.  “Instead of listing an identified, researched and needed public purpose,” Mr. Faherty states in his letter, “the proposed ordinance only listed multiple possible, future public purposes as…including, but not necessarily limited to, public open spaces, parks, recreation, and public parking. Such a vague assertion of potential public purpose fails to adequately state the purpose as required 26 Pa. C.S.A.(b)(4).”

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February 8th, 2022 — In OCA Blog

Legacy Trail Property Owners Receive Favorable Decision in Federal Case

In Cheshire Hunt v. United States, the Court of Federal Claims ruled recently in favor of landowners who held property abutting an abandoned railway that was subsequently converted into a public recreational rail-trail called the Legacy Trail. The property owners were represented by OCA Member, Thor Hearne. As part of the rail-trail conversion, Sarasota County had demanded that the owners remove fences and other structures from the one-hundred-foot-wide rail-trail corridor, even though those structures had existed for decades with the County’s and the railroad’s permission, and even though the structures had not interfered with the railroad’s operations. In the newly issued decision, the court held that the federal government was responsible for paying for the cost of removing these structures under a given set of criteria. Thor Hearne has successfully represented many property owners in these rails to trails conversions and is considered an expert in the area. For more information and background about this case, visit the True North Law Firm website.   

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January 20th, 2022 — In OCA Blog

OCA Emeritus Member Joe Waldo Fights to Preserve Historic Community Center in Norfolk

The future of a 145-year-old YMCA known as the Hunton Y that serves as an important community and service center in the heart of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Norfolk, Virginia is in doubt as the city seeks to use its’ eminent domain power to take it for redevelopment purposes. “All you have to do is walk in, see children, and you see the value of what the Hunton Y has done for 145 years,” says Attorney and OCA emeritus member Joseph Waldo, who represents the Y.  Although the city is offering to buy the  land Hunton sits on for $2 million in order to replace it with a retention pond, Joe Waldo says that is far less than the tax value of $4 million and the amount if will take to buy, rent or move the facility. “We knew off the bat that was wrong,” said Waldo. To read more about the case click here.

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December 9th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

OCA Member Shane Rayman Interviewed on Property Takings in Canada

Parts of Canada, like the United States, will likely see an increase in property takings due to existing and upcoming public infrastructure projects. This is particularly true in Ontario. Recently, OCA Member, Shane Rayman, with Rayman Beitchman LLP in Toronto was interviewed on the subject for the Canadian Lawyer publication. “Expropriation is happening more and more frequently as more and more public works take place,” Shane Rayman says, pointing to Ontario’s Building Transit Faster Act, which enacted new powers for Metrolinx to acquire land. To read the interview in its entirety, click here. .

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December 9th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

Must Taking Authority Have Power to Condemn To Take Property By Inverse Condemnation? Maybe Not

Under the inverse condemnation statutes and laws in most states, any authority or body that has the power of eminent domain and that has taken some action resulting in private property being taken, destroyed or damaged may be sued based on a claim of inverse condemnation.  But what if the authority or body (i.e. the party responsible for the taking or damaging) does not actually possess the power of eminent domain? May it still be charged with an inverse condemnation claim? In many states, the courts have said no; the party being accused of the taking must possess the power of eminent domain, either directly or by an act of delegation. However, recently the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled differently, finding in Hughes v. UGI Storage Co., No.J-69A-2021 (Nov. 29, 2021) that UGI Storage did not need a prior delegation of eminent domain power to be (potentially) liable for inverse condemnation under Pennsylvania law. To read more about the case, the facts and the basis of this unusal legal holding, click here.

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November 18th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

What Does the New Public Infrastructure Bill Mean For Property Owners Facing An Eminent Domain Taking

With $1.2 trillion in federal funds getting disbursed across the country as part of the recently approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, many expect a surge in eminent domain activity as state and local governments advance a host of road, highway, bridge, railway and dam projects. But what about the businesses, companies and individual property owners who will be on the receiving end of all this acquisition activity? What should they be worried about and what can they do to be ready  when the government decides that it needs their property?  If you are an individual or business who may be called upon to support America’s once-in-a-generation investment in its’ public infrastructure with your most valuable asset, your property, read this handy Featured Article on Owners’ Counsel of America’s website entitled “What Does the Federal Public Infrastructure Bill Mean for Property Owners.” There you will find basic and useful advice on how to prepare to meet such a challenge.

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November 17th, 2021 — In News & Events

OCA Affilate Member Jonathan Houghton Takes Position with Pacific Legal Foundation

OCA Affiliate Member Jonathan Houghton recently announced that he will be leaving the law firm of Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon and Houghton, where he has practiced on behalf of property owners for many years in the areas of eminent domain, inverse condemnation and regulatory takings to work within the Property Rights Group of the Pacific Legal Foundation. In leaving a law firm that has mean a lot to him, Jon said,  “I want to take this opportunity to share my extraordinary appreciation for Mike Rikon. He brought me in all those years ago and his firm has been a home. All of the skills and knowledge that I am taking to PLF came from my time there and I am leaving with a heavy debt of gratitude.” We wish Jon well in his new position and know that he will continue to represent property owners with the same dedication and committment he has always demonstrated.    

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November 9th, 2021 — In News & Events

Meet Nina Sawaya, Toby Prince Brigham OCA Scholar for 2022

Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) is pleased to announce that Nina Sawaya, a second year law student attending Denver University Sturm College of Law, will be the first recipient of the Toby Prince Brigham OCA Scholarship. Created in 2021 following the passing of OCA’s founder, Toby Prince Brigham, the scholarship is designed to inspire the next generation of lawyers to take up the cause of protecting and defending private property rights, a cause that Mr. Brigham fought for on behalf of countless property owners during the entire 54 years of his eminent domain law practice. The prestigious Toby Prince Brigham OCA Scholarship offers the opportunity, at no expense, for a U.S. law student to meet, learn from, and network with the nation’s leading eminent domain and property rights lawyers through attendance at the pre-eminent property rights conference in the country, now approaching its 40th year. Held annually at different locations, for 2022 the ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference will take place Jan. 27-29 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The decision to select Nina Sawaya was made by the OCA Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee after extensive outreach to several law schools across the country. Personal recommendations were sought from deans, law professors and others with knowledge of students possessing a genuine interest in private property rights. “In selecting Nina Sawaya,” says OCA Executive Director, Leslie Fields, “both the Scholarship Committee and Board were impressed with her academic record, proven interest and commitment to private property rights, and her prior work experience in the area of […]

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October 25th, 2021 — In Articles

New ABA Article: Michael Berger, “Whither Regulatory Takings”

OCA Honorary Member Michael Berger has authored a new article entitled, “Whither Regulatory Takings.” In it he compares the law that looks to the Fifth Amendment as the guardian against overly stringent government regulation to the everyday legal outcome of most property owners making a regulatory taking claim: recovery denied. As Mr. Berger writes, “For the uninitiated it has become very difficult for a property owner to prevail in a regulatory taking case. Indeed, two commentators likened such litigation to a “high-stakes game of craps.” This statement explains Justice Thomas’s comment that if the Court really does not believe in regulatory takings, it “should say so.” To read Mr. Berger’s outstanding article in its entirety click here. 

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October 1st, 2021 — In OCA Blog

OCA Member Kermitt Waters Prevails in Golf Club Takings Case

Judge Timothy Williams ruled on Tuesday in favor of developer EHB, represented by OCA Member Kermitt Waters, finding that a city’s actions in stalling the developer’s housing plans were tantamount to a taking. In recent years, the Las Vegas City Council either held up or rejected plans to build homes on much of the closed golf course property, leading the developer to claim that such delays and denials were unnecessary and aimed at preserving the private land’s use for the surrounding public. For many years a coalition of residents in the upscale Queensridge neighborhood, which the course weaves through, cited fears of high density and diminishing property values in opposing the developer’s plans.

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