Eminent Domain: Westerville Loses $1.3 million appeal

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Last week, the 10th District Court of Appeals affirmed the $1.3 million verdict awarded to a Westerville businessman in an eminent domain case. The businessman alleged that the city’s beautification project reduced the value of his property.

The property at issue is located at the intersection of South State Street and Heatherdown Drive. A portion of the building on that site is leased to a branch of U.S. Bank. James Taylor, the owner, had attempted to block the city from taking a portion of his property for use in the city’s $8.8 million South State Street Improvement Project. That project buried power lines, widened sidewalks and installed ornamental fencing.

Through the eminent domain process, the city of Westerville appropriated most of Taylor’s State Street frontage and a 0.016 acre strip along Heatherdown Drive which crossed the bank building’s main entrance. Although the city paid for the portions of land that it seized, it did not compensate Taylor for the devaluation of the property. At trial, the Franklin County jury awarded Taylor $182,000 to compensate him for the property that was taken and $1.14 million for damages.

Even though bank customers were never denied access to the bank, and the bank renewed its lease with Taylor, Taylor argued that since he no longer owned the driveway to the building and argued further that the city of Westerville could barricade the driveway if it chose to do so. The Court of Appeals agreed.

Christa Dickey, Westerville spokesperson, indicated that the city was reviewing the appeals court decision. The city could appeal further.

Owners of property taken by government or public entities are entitled to fair compensation. If you own property and have been notified that a government entity or utility intends to take your property for a public project, you need to be aware of your rights. Contact the Ohio Eminent Domain attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.