OCA Blog

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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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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September 7th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

OCA Member Thor Hearne Wins Big in Latest Rails to Trails Case

The United States Court of Federal Claims recently issued an important decison in a Rails to Trails case involving some 59 properties adjacent to a former railroad corridor in Newton County, Georgia. The owners were seeking just compensation under the Fifth Amendment stemming from the imposition of a recreational trail across their properties. The primary issues before the court were the amount of just compensation to be paid for the taking and the appropriate interest rate to apply given the delay between the date of the taking and the date of payment. The decision was filed on August 31, 2021and the case is Gloria Jackson vs. United States in the United States Court of Claims (Nos. 14-397L, 15-194L)

The property owners were represented by OCA Member Thor Hearne who has tried many such Rails to Trails cases. Mr. Hearne successfully argued in the case that the just compensation due the property owners must include significant damages to their remaining properties. For more information about the Rails to Trails Act read this handy brochure from OCA’s Featured Articles.

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September 7th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

Happy 30th Birthday to the Institute For Justice!

The Institute For Justice is celebrating its 30th birthday this month and we, at OCA, couldn’t be happier to share this good news with our own followers. Dana Berliner, IJ’s Senior Vice President and Litigation Director (who is also an Honorary member of OCA) recalls, “When I started at IJ in January 1994, we had yet to litigate our first property rights case. Now, 27 years later, it is our largest area of litigation, encompassing eminent domain, civil forfeiture, unconstitutional searches, zoning, and other areas.” IJ, which doesn’t charge its clients, has brought 10 cases to the Supreme Court and lost just one, Kelo v. City of New London. But that decision ended up propelling changes to restrict eminent domain takings for purely economic reasons  in no less than 44 states through litigation, legislation, and even constitutional amendments. Thank you Institute for Justice for all you do to protect private property rights and private property owners.

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July 26th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

OCA’s Maryland Member Joseph Suntum Fights for Property Owner in Baltimore Redeveloment Project

A Baltimore couple are at the center of an eminent domain dispute involving the redeveloment of the Poppleton neighborhood, fighting to preserve their home from being taken along with 500 other homes and lots included in a planned redevelopment being pursued by the city and a New York developer. The Eaddy family has owned their home since 1992 and Sonia Eaddy has spent years working as a community leader and volunteer in the neighborhood.  After a devastating fire in 2012, she rebuilt her home and does not want to leave.  Represented by OCA member Joseph Suntum, the Eaddys are arguing that the developer doesn’t have financing for his plans involving their property, and that though the redevelopment dates back some 15 years, hardly anything tangible has been realized from the efforts thus far, making the demolition of the Eaddy house unnecessary. Although a judge has ruled that the city has the authority to take the property, the Eaddy family has vowed to press on and appeal the matter. To learn more about the background of this case click here to read a recent article in the Washington Post.

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July 8th, 2021 — In OCA Blog

Pennsylvania Property Owner Prevents Powerlines Across Property

When the Altoona/Logan Mobiile Emergency Medical Department Authority (AMED), an entity created by the city of Altoona to condemn property for a powerline to serve a new ambulance station, sought to take Roy Powell’s property, he objected. Represented by OCA Member Mike Faherty, Powell challenged the authority’s eminent domain power as well as the overly broad nature of the taking. On Tuesday, Powell was vindicated, when a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court issued a lengthy decision reversing a lower judge’s dismissal of his objections. It ruled that AMED does not have the statutory power to condemn land for the purpose of installing electric transmission lines and also that the description of the property to be condemned for an easement was “inadequate.” OCA Member Faherty said after the ruling that his client was “elated” by the decision. “This is a great victory for Mr. Powell and for property rights,” he added.

 

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