From all indications, Washington County has begun filing condemnation actions against property owners with whom it has not reached “agreement” on its Farmington Road Project.
As I noted in my post on the Project earlier this year, it calls for the widening of Farmington Road from Murray Boulevard to Hocken Avenue.
The “final design” map showing the extent of the takings and impacted properties is found here, and a the Project’s very basic construction staging map is found here.
In road widening projects such as this one, which result primarily in partial “strip takings,” the often-found fundamental tension between the government’s approach and just compensation is the government’s propensity to ignore or minimize damages to the value of the property remaining after the taking. Unfortunately for property owners, such damages can be significant, even if the strip taken is relatively small. In addition to factors such as an increased proximity to travel lanes and attendant noise, property owners can be faced with adverse impacts to access, parking, on-site vehicle maneuvering, and conformity with set-backs and other development requirements. In certain situations, the highest and best use of the property can take a hit, potentially resulting in very significant damages.
Fortunately, property owners have a constitutional right not to have their just compensation minimized. Vindicating that constitutional right, however, requires action and standing up to the government.