ews Watch - Ohio Eminent Domain Lawyers

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                                                                                                         HI   'Il
                                          we were in eonla   I wilh William   llankinsons'   farm   Is
I   By TIM WHITE                                                            we were in contact with William Hankinsons' farm. Also, 13 acres
I                                           Key Points                      Goldman when we got word from would be taken, a portion of
                                                                                                                                                     "The idea is to pay a fair
                                                                                                                                                 compensation," Makowski says.
            D Hankinson remembers            • Eminent domain can be fought ODOT [the Ohio Department of which the state valued at $5,000        "Any appraiser ODOT uses is
            when State Route 161was            in court.                    Transportation]," Ed says.        per acre. Total compensation       licensed and bound to follow
            a rolling country lane with                                        "1told him right away to be was far less than the market
                                             • Farmers need to find expert                                                                       appraisal standards. They work
    so little traffic that he and his                                       ready for a shock when he sees may have been willing to pay.
                                               help to settle disputes.                                                                          from actual market activity in
    friends could play in the middle                                        how little the state's appraiser     "I guarantee you that if they   the area."
    of the road without interruption         • Few eminent domain cases
                                               actually go to court.        will be offering," Goldman says. had put a for sale sign, they           Even when a property acqui-
    or parental concern.                                                                                      would have had to call law en-     sition is taken to court, the pro-
        "We'd go out and pop the tar                                        Targeted again                    forcement to handle the crowd      cess of negotiation continues,
    bubbles with our bare feet," re-      Alexandria has been squeezed      Ed makes it clear he is not of buyers, and the selling price         he says. "We get updated ap-
    calls the retired farmer.              by mega development in New against change and that he un- would have been far greater                 praisals, and any additional
        That changed in 1956 when         Albany to the west and pros- derstands that the highway im- than the state offered," says              information     the   landowner
    the state of Ohio decided the          perous suburban growth in provement is needed to serve Goldman.                                      provides is used to help reach
    road needed to be widened and         Granville to the east.            the growing new population.          With his partner        Mike   a settlement. Both parties need
    leveled for heavier use. A 24-            Around 1998,the Hankinsons "We just want the compensa- Braunstein, Goldman has fo-                to keep an open mind."
    year-old Ed was just back from        and their neighbors got word of tion to be fair," he says. "Their cused on eminent domain cases            For the Hankinsons, the
    duty in Korea and helping with        plans by the state to once again plan cut our farm in half. It for the past 15 years. "It's a spe-    court hearing took only three
    the farm work.                        improveSR 161.Eventually, they took away two rental houses, cialized field that does not have         days. They testified, as did sev-
       Under eminent domain law,          attended a regional meeting the steer feedlot, a silo and the a lot of experienced attorneys,"        eral appraisers.
    the state paid $27,000 in 1956        where they were told the new barn lot."                            he says. In all, the two repre-         "It's   not    complicated,"
    to move two houses and a barn         design included widening it to       The changes called for sented 26 of the more than 70             Goldman says. "The jury under-
    owned by his family. An aerial        four lanes and adding a ser- separating half of the original landowners involved in the SR            stood that the appraisals they
    photo of the farm shows a             vice road along each side of the farm, and providing "substitute    161 expansion.                    were being shown justified a
    green stripe where the old road       highway. The Hankinsons were access, which reduced the ulti-           "A lot of folks just figured   higher value, and they appreci-
    used to run in front of the farm-     prepared.                         mate development opportuni- they couldn't fight city hall,"         ated the damage to the build-
    house.                                    "We had dealt with an at- ties," says Goldman. Six lanes Goldman says. "They believed             ings and to the business by
                                          torney on some estate plans, so of traffic would run through the the state's offer was the best       having it chopped in half. They
     Eminent domain action                                                                                   deal they could get, and they      saw that the business would be
    "My Dad was easygoing, and                                                                               took it. It's a shame."            substantially reduced by the
    when they said they needed to
                                                                                                                                                residual property after the emi-
    take action, he didn't resist,"                                                                          Fair compensation                  nent domain action.
    says Ed, who still helps run the                                                                         Rick Makowski, chief of the            "They were offered $597,000
    combine for the couple that                                                                              Transportation Division of the for land and damages. The jury
    rents the farmland. He and his                                                                           Ohio Attorney General's office, awarded them $1.67 million."
    wife, Betty, live in the house                                                                           says in his 25 years of experi-        He also points out that once
    where he grew up.                                                                                        ence, about 10% or 11% of the a suit is filed, the state deposits
        He recalls watching as the                                                                           properties that have been ac- the money it has offered for the
    state's moving team winched                                                                              quired have gone to court, and property into an account that
    the farm's other homes along                                                                             no more than half of those have the owner or mortgage holders
    slowly on pipe rollers and                                                                               gone to a jury trial.             have access to. That money can
    planks. "The electric wire was
                                                                                                                                               be used for the lawsuit.
    rolled out behind it, and they
                                                                                                             MEMENTO: Ed Hankinson's                "Our attorneys had their
    didn't have to worry about
                                                                                                             childhood home was moved for ducks in a row," Ed says. "Ifyou
    indoor plumbing at the time,"
                                                                                                             SR 161 expansion in 1956. Only get in a situation like this, you
    he says.
                                                                                                             a photo is left after the state's need attorneys who know what
        Much has changed since                                                                               most recent acquisition of his    they are doing and have spe-
    then. Their little town of
l                                                                                                            property.                         cialized in this kind of work."

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