Whelan Wins First Battle: Judge Dismisses City's Condemnation Of Property
Late yesterday Judge Schuller, in the City of Poplar Bluff v Robert J Whelan case, dismissed the City’s case against Whelan. The judge wrote:
“…Defendants claim that the Relator failed to act in good faith by not following generally accepted accounting practices. Relator’s appraiser testified that his appraisal was subject to the LPA Manual. …Clearly, these requirements were not met.”
“…the power of condemnation is such an extreme use of power by the government that the applicable statutes are strictly construed in favor of the landowners.”
The case centers around the intersection of Oak Grove Road and North Westwood Blvd where MoDot and City officials have been planning a much needed upgrade. The first main purchase was for an empty office building and parking lot at a premium of $828,000 and then followed with purchases of an empty office building for $789,000 and then the roughly half (1/2) of the property of the car wash for over $1,000,000:
(#1 in photo)
This left the Whelans’ Property (#4 in photo) as the sole, business property remaining un-purchased at the intersection. The city’s strong-arm tactics were to provide a lowball appraisal and attempt to steal the land from Whelan by condemnation. The courts said NO!
The city’s choices at this point appear to Appeal (which will take at least a year to complete with the prospect for similar outcome), start the condemnation process over again and do it properly (which certainly will take more than a year), or pay the Whelan’s what they deserve to be paid.
Here’s the catch, the high property value is the city’s own fault. The city is the one who drove up the property value by overpaying their buddies for their land. Whelan’s property, appraised at less than $450,000, contains more square footage than the Car Wash which sold for over $1,000,000.
Congratulations to the Whelan family. I’m thrilled to see the courts stand up for them and against the grotesque use of public/civic power.