May 16th, 2021 — In OCA Blog
Virginia Jury Awards Substantial Damage Award for Pipeline Bisecting Landowner’s Property
OCA member, Stephen Clarke’s representation of owners James and Kathy Chandler, resulted in a jury verdict of $430,000 against the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s taking of their “slice of heaven” atop Bent Mountain. The pipeline company had previously offered them $89,343 for their property. After a trial on value, the jury agreed with the property owner that the construction of the 42-inch diameter natural gas pipeline would cause damages to the their 111-acre property by bisecting it and passing about 500 feet from their custom-built home. Commenting on the verdict, Stephen Clarke stated that “There’s a huge gap that cuts through the heart of their land, 125 feet wide and half a mile long.” In testifying before the jury, owner James Chandler told them that even though the pipeline would be buried, it will always be “a visual reminder. Nothing will be normal.” Stephen Clark is with the law firm of Waldo & Lyle.
May 12th, 2021 — In OCA Blog
Judge Makes Preliminary Ruling Against Apple Valley Taking Over Water System
A San Bernardino Superior Court judge ruled recently against the Town of Apple Valley in its attempt to take over its largest supplier of water, Liberty Utilities. The water provider is represented by OCA member, Ed Burg who practices out of Los Angeles with the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
In a preliminary ruling issued after an extensive bench trial, Judge Donald Alvarez found that Liberty Utilities had “disproved” the town’s arguments that its acquisition of the company’s water system would be in the public’s interest and a necessity. The ruling comes after a lengthy effort by Apple Valley to acquire the water system that has been ongoing since 2011. The town filed its eminent domain lawsuit in January 2016 when the system was owned by Ranchos Water Company. A copy of the Judge’s ruling can be view on the Town’s website.
May 1st, 2021 — In OCA Blog
Valuing Property During a Pandemic
OCA’s New York Member Mike Rikon’s recent blog posts takes on some of the tricky issues that have surfaced in valuing property during a pandemic. According to Mike, Covid-19’s impact on real estate valuations have made it difficult to apply the comparable sales approach, one of the often used methods for determining real estate values, particularly in eminent domain cases. Referring to statements made by real estate professionals like Lisa Loychik of Cohen & Co., the article suggests that it is debatable whether pre-Covid-19 sales can be considered comparable with post-pandemic sales. Thus, many valuators are looking beyond comparable sales and considering individual circumstances on a more granular level. This approach acknowledges that generalities are of limited value when Covid-19 may have different effects on different properties in the same neighborhood. To learn more about this issue, you an read Mike’s article in its entirety here.
April 16th, 2021 — In OCA Blog
OCA Member’s Recent Win Highlights Growing Concerns Over Damage Caused by Flooding and Water Events
Nearly every week OCA receives one or more phone calls from concerned property owners relating to flooding or other water related events causing significant damage to their property. With climate change and global warming placing ever increasing burdens on our aging public infrastructure, these complaints are likely to continue and even increase. Indeed, OCA member Randall Smith (whose practice in lowlying Louisiana places him at the forefront of this issue) recently won a lawsuit against the City of Mandeville over a municipal drainage project’s impact on land owned by Hilda Maestri Landry. Randall’s lawsuit alleged that the project altered the natural flow of the Ravine Au Coquilles, also known as No Name Bayou, so that it overflowed its natural banks to impact the Landry property. In the court’s judgement recognizing the legitimacy the claim, instead of awarding damages, the court ordered the city to dig out part of the ravine, place backfill, and install pipes to correct the problem. The court also directed the city to do the work with oversight by the owner’s expert and to pay all costs incurred by the landowner. If you are experiencing a floodng event that you believe is the result of government actions, reach out to an OCA member or read this helpful article on OCA’s website, entitled,“My Property is Being Flooded–Is That a Taking That I Can Be Compensated For Under the Constitution?”
April 5th, 2021 — In OCA Blog
ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference Now Scheduled for 2022
Mark your calendars for the next ALI-CLE Eminent Domain and Land Valuation Litigation Conference to be held in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch. The conference dates are January 27-29, 2022. Exploring a full range of cutting-edge issues and drawing professionals from across the country, this annual conference is always “the place to be” for all eminent domain and land use practitioners looking to learn from recognized and experienced professionals representing the diverse stakeholders in these cases.
March 3rd, 2021 — In OCA Blog
OCA Member Michael Rikon Inducted into IAOTP’s Hall of Fame
Michael Rikon, OCA’s New York Member and a Partner of Goldstein, Rikon, Rikon & Houghton, P.C., was recently inducted into the exclusive Hall of Fame for 2021 by the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). These special honorees are distinguished based on longevity in their fields of practice, as well as their overall contributions to society. Mr. Rikon is being recognized for this honor based on over 50 years in the legal industry. Mr. Rikon was previously honored at IAOTP’s 2019 Annual Award Gala as Top Attorney of the Year and will again be honored at IAOTP’s 2021 Annual Award Gala at the end of this year. To view Mr. Rikon’s OCA bio and profile, click here. We congratulate Michael on this wonderful honor and deserving recognition.
February 17th, 2021 — In OCA Blog
Considering the Condemnation of Golf Course Land or Golf Facilities-Not So Fast
OCA’s New York member Michael Rikon writes in his Bulldozers at Your DoorStep Blog about the hazards and risks associated with a condemnor seeking to acquire a golf course or lands associated with a golf facility by eminent domain main. “Not so fast,” Mike advises. Before deciding that such actions are a good idea, the condemnor might wish to critically analyze the concept of highest and best use. To learn more about this concept and the part it plays in assessing a parcel’s development potential and resulting fair market value, read Mike’s article here. You might also wish to check out OCA’s Featured article entitled, “A Landowner’s Guide to Understanding the Concept of Highest and Best Use.”
February 3rd, 2021 — In OCA Blog
Anthony DellaPelle Assumes Leadership Role With Great Swamp Watershed Association
OCA’s New Jersey member and property rights attorney Anthony DellaPelle with the law firm of McKirdy Riskin Olson and Dellapelle out of Morris Township was recently elected as the new Board chairman of the Great Swamp Watershed Association. First formed in 1981 as a grassroots organization the Association has grown to serve over 2,200 members in some 40 municipalities within New Jersey. The principle mission of GSWA is to preserve and protect the water and natural areas under its purview. Five streams in the watershed form the Passaic River, which provides potable water for over a million New Jersey residents. “My main objective while serving as Chair is to have GSWA continue its essential work in protecting the watershed,” DellaPelle stated. “I want to increase awareness of the importance of our goals and efforts not only within the Great Swamp region and headwaters, but also in the downstream areas of the Passaic River as a result of the recent expansion of our mission to extend our geographic reach.”
November 21st, 2020 — In OCA Blog
Virginia Statute Allowing Electrical Easements to be Use for Broadband Challenged as Unconstitutional
After the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 831 authorizing utility companies to use existing “easements for the location and use of electric and communications facilities,” OCA’s Virginia member, Joshua Baker, filed suit, asserting that the law amounts to an unconstitutional taking of property rights without compensation and a denial of due process. Mr. Baker seeks a repeal of the legislation as part of the lawsuit. Mr. Baker explains that the property owners he represents, “are essentially giving up additional rights for for-profit companies to use their land,” but without being compensated for such rights. To read more about the case and the Complaint that was filed go to Robert Thomas’Inverse Condemnation Blog.
October 28th, 2020 — In Articles
Mike Rikon and Jon Houghton Discuss A Recent New York Case Addressing the Practice of Advance Payments and Sandbagging
In an article published in the New York Law Journal Owners’ Counsel of America Members Mike Rikon and Jon Houghon discuss the recent decision in Staten Island Land Corp and how it seeks to address the problem of advance payments and sandbagging in the State of New York. As they explain in the article, under New York’s quick take statute, the government can take title to property which it seeks to condemn by making an advance payment based on the government’s ‘highest approved appraisal’ before the final determination of just compensation has been made, which payment can subsequently be used by the owner to purchase replacement property. However, what happens if the condemning authority tenders a second (and much lower) appraisal at trial (a tactic called sandbagging) that results in a final just compensation determination well below the advanced payment? In such situations, the landowner can be forced to repay the deficiency amount, something that is difficult to do if the owner has already reinvested the money in replacement property. Read here on how the Staten Island case seeks to remedy this obvious injustice.