Many Ohio property owners might be surprised to learn that state, local and federal governments have the right to simply take land through eminent domain if it is deemed necessary for a public project. While some of these projects – like a new road – are important, people do have the right to protest and fight back. That could be due to a perceived failure to get just compensation or for other reasons. It can seem daunting to battle against eminent domain since the public entity seemingly has endless resources at its disposal, but a recent case shows that people can protest and win.
Court finds in favor of landowners in eminent domain case
A case in which an Ohio park district wanted to use eminent domain to take land from private owners was decided in favor of the owners. The intention was to create a bikeway that would span 100 miles. The land in question needed to be used for part of the bikeway. In addition, the court stated that the park district – MetroParks – abused its discretion to approve the attempt to use eminent domain. The land is not within its authority to do so. Disputes have been ongoing as property owners fought against the plan. While much of the land was abandoned, other areas of it impacted private property owners.
A state representative has sought to amend the 2021 state budget bill to stop the acquisition of private property for this type of use. In the past, other representatives have tried to do the same. One property owner was offered $13,650 to buy her land. She was one of the landowners in the lawsuit and had her cases denied nearly two years ago. This appellate decision reverses the denials. Two judges stated that the law suggests that land must be specifically for recreational trails and that the bikeway may not meet the criteria to use eminent domain to take the land.
Understanding and fighting eminent domain
While eminent domain is a part of the law and is often necessary, people retain certain rights. As worrisome as it is to fight against entities that are trying to take the land, there are frequently strategies that can be employed to do so effectively. Even if the land is going to be taken, there are still fundamental requirements that must be met including the owners being paid fair market value. This case serves as an example of what can be accomplished by landowners in a dispute. For assistance in any aspect of an eminent domain case, it is important to have experienced guidance to address the situation.