Village to hit brakes on eminent domain after push back

Flashback

On Monday, Jan. 23, the East Troy Village Board voted to proceed with the use of eminent domain to forcibly seize land from two homeowners in East Troy on the cul-de-sac of Brooks Court.

And Then

And Now, The Flash

The East Troy Village Board will consider two alternative options regarding the use of eminent domain on Brooks Court during its meeting Monday, Feb. 6.

Village Administrator Eileen Suhm recommended the board revisit the issue in a memorandum highlighting problems with the board’s Jan. 23 decision to proceed with eminent domain. The memorandum stated that “although eminent domain can be used to obtain private property and turn it over to an individual property owner, it would need to be blighted property.” The affected properties were not considered blighted.

The memorandum was issued after two trustees pushed back against the vote, arguing the process failed to follow procedure and questioning whether the law gives the village the power to pursue eminent domain proceedings in this case.

The memorandum also confirmed East Troy NewsFlash’s findings that the homeowners were left in the dark regarding the village’s proceedings. Additionally, the memorandum revealed a counter offer had been made to Pulliam by one of the affected homeowners. The counter offer had not been mentioned during the Village Board meeting Jan, 23.

The Not So Flash

During an interview Jan. 25 with the homeowner of one of the affected properties, the homeowner stated he had no knowledge that his property was to be discussed at the Jan. 23 Village Board meeting. He said he had received no notice and, at that time, was unaware of the Village Board’s 4-3 vote on Jan. 23 to proceed with eminent domain to seize his land.

The homeowner also said he made a recent counter offer to Pulliam. The counter offer had not been mentioned in the Village Board meeting Jan. 23. During discussion at the Jan. 23 board meeting, the affected homeowners had been labeled as uncooperative.

On Thursday, Jan. 26, Trustee Scott Seager, who voted against the use of eminent domain, visited the same affected homeowner to find out additional information. The homeowner again revealed he had not been notified, and, also, again, made mention of a possible counter offer.  Seager connected the homeowner with Village Administrator Eileen Suhm.

According to Trustee Ann Zess, who has pushed to forego the seizure of the property, ‚ÄúSuhm has been working tirelessly to rectify the situation and provide transparency to the process.” This sentiment was echoed by Village President Randy Timms who stated, “Eileen has done a marvelous job researching this subject.”

The memorandum released by Suhm Friday, Feb. 3 confirmed both the findings of East Troy NewsFlash and Seager.

  • The property owners had not been notified of the Jan. 23 board meeting where eminent domain was discussed. The memo apologized for this oversight. The memo also noted affected residents were now being notified of the upcoming meeting Monday, Feb. 6.
  • A counter offer, as recent as Jan. 4, had been made by one of the affected homeowners. The counter offer was not mentioned in the meeting on Monday, Jan. 23.

The memorandum also clarified that the use of eminent domain for the transfer of property to a private party can only be used when the property is considered blighted. The affected properties were not.

The memorandum presented two new solutions:

  • Correct the easement on the plat to allow for a driveway to be built to Pulliam’s property. According to Renee Powers with the Department of Administration Plat Review, whoever has rights of enforcement can modify the easement on the plat.
  • Create potential driveway access for Pulliam’s property from Highway 20 using the village owned, but undeveloped, “unnamed road.”

Additional details can be viewed in the excerpt from the village board packet below:

 

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