March 15th, 2012 — By — In News & Events

Government Restrictions on Groundwater Constitute Inverse Condemnation in New Jersey

Farmer Todd Kuehm has battled the Township of Montville for almost a decade seeking to simply use the groundwater beneath his land for irrigation.  Mr. Kuehm’s 28 acre farm is located on the Towaco Aquifer which supplies water to many area residents.  Despite the property’s natural water resources, Montville has prohibited Mr. Kuehm, a fourth generation New Jersey farmer, from using the groundwater to irrigate his crops. As a result, the farm business has suffered damages as Mr. Kuehm has been unable to put his agricultural property to its highest and best use cultivating more lucrative crops.  Rather he has chosen to plant corn which requires less water and a lower financial investment to cultivate.

In December 2011, the Superior Court of New Jersey found that the restrictions placed upon the property by Montville constituted a taking under inverse condemnation.  The Court ordered the Township to pay Mr. Kuehm just compensation for the taking as well as his attorneys’ fees.  While Mr. Kuehm is seeking only $275,000 in damages as a result of the taking, the amount of just compensation due to Mr. Keuhm will remain undetermined for some time as the Township has appealed the Superior Court’s December 2011 ruling.

Condemnation counsel to Mr. Keuhm, Anthony Della Pelle* said in an article by Carla Townsend in The Daily Record, “I want to make sure that Todd is made whole for the deprivation of the property rights by the town so he can go on with his life and farm his farm.  With modern farming, especially here in this state where there’s so little land, you have to farm that land efficiently to make any money.”

For more background on this story, see Montville farmer’s battle over water rights and the NJ Condemnation Blog post New Jersey Farmer Growing More Dedicated in Fight Against Eminent Domain.  You can also watch an interview with Mr. Keuhm and his attorney, Anthony Della Pelle, on Fox News here or click below.

[Disclosure: Anthony Della Pelle, Esq., CRE is the New Jersey member of the Owners’ Counsel of America and a partner with McKirdy & Riskin, P.A. in Morristown, NJ.  Mr. Dell Pelle practices exclusively to the in the areas of eminent domain, redevelopment and property tax appeals representing private property owners throughout the state of New Jersey .]

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