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repsac
10-31-2006, 05:06 AM
As I said in the "Case of the Rose Bush" I had another right of way story. This is a sighting in it's greatest because it has two types of Suckiness in it. While not retail related, it's worth noting because of the result of it.

Unlike many of my stories, I'll tell you the end result; and then let you read what happened. Maybe you can decide what you'd have done in the same situation.

The city near where I live was approached to run amtrak through. However, inorder to do this a major upgrading would need to be done to the railroad, and a disused stretch of track would need to be brought back into service. The RR and state didn't realise that in the ten years since that portion of track had been out of service, that a large number of people had removed the rails, ties, and even much of the roadbed. Because of the land owners, and in some cases the home owners actions, the city lost the Amtrak contract, and by many estimates a possible ten million dollars a year boom to the local economy.

Here's the story:

The railroad had once been a major thouroughfare. In fact, it had once been the fastest way to Miami Florida. Over the years, with passenger traffic falling away, this track saw a heavy service in freight. Around nineteen ninety, maybe a bit earlier, the company that owned the line began to question the profitability of the particular line. While it was still seeing some traffic, shipping wasn't what it used to be. Gradually, over the next five years, the line was slowly phased out. However, since this line had been very profitable in the past; and the company expected that at one time it may again be profitable, the trackage wasn't simply abandoned.

Rather, it was left intact, but not maintained. Disused they call it. The company continued to pay taxes on it, but didn't send crews down to keep it up. It was left in a serious state of disrepair, but the trained eye could see that yes, it had potential. So it lay for a decade. Forgotten, misplaced, ignored.

And then, something happened. Something breathed a gasp of life into that line. Amtrak.

Having lost a corridor to Miami due to federal restrictions, Amtrak approached a few common carriers with a proposal. If they could band together and upgrade their tracks, and if the company could return this disused track to modern standards, then Amtrak would foot the bill for a new station, and open a service corridor which was expected to bring new life into the small city.

With great gusto, the surveyors were dispatched. That's when they started to run into problems.

Much of the track, for lack of a better word, was gone. Vanished into thin air. In some cases, they found old ties, but no rails. In others, the rails remained, pushed to the way side while the ties were missing. In many cases, nothing remained. Not even the old road bed and grade. Several times, the surveyors found themselves standing in some person's yard, trying to figure out where on the map they were, only to be run off under threat of personal injury. The upgrading would have taken just over two years, had the tracks remained disused. Now, with all the things they were finding, no one was sure HOW long it would take.

The company petitioned the state to find out what happened. Sure, in some cases of abandonment, the land reverts to the state (not the original land owner. *this note is key). Thinking that the line may have been abandoned by mistake, they waited. The state told them that no, it was still listed as disused, and that as far as they could tell no one had been given permission to build.

So, it went to court.

In the first of what would become many lawsuits, the company sought damages from the home owners. In several cases, the suit was settled out of court, with the owners having to pay substantially for the land. They were in turn suggested to file suit against who ever they bought the land from, since the sale was illegal. (state land can not be sold by private parties. RR's count as this.)

Suit after suit hit the courts, and Amtrak waited in the wings.

Last year, Amtrak gave the company an ultimatum. Begin trackwork and rebuilding, or we'll look someplace else. What could they do? Trackwork began in areas that were not contested, while owners fought tooth and nail.

It was one woman that threw a wrench into everything. One woman whose husband was a prominent doctor. She refused to pay, sued the company; and for a time looked like she might win.

In an interview to the paper, she said in what we all know as the perfect sucky tone: "It's not my fault they want the land back. I bought it from <so and so> and it's mine. So what if he didn't have right to sell it. It's mine now and they can't have it back!"

The thing is, after having fought so many people for land that it owned, the company had capitulated to a degree. It was offering to give the land to the people, if they would sell tracts to the railroad for fair market value. That way, the company could divert. In some cases, people were rumored to have been offered as much as fifty thousand dollars for less than an acre of land.

Would you belive that some people turned that down? Many accepted the offers, some getting as much as that, most getting less. Yet, that one woman held out.

Six months later, Amtrak had had enough. It was taking too long, and while trackwork was going on, the stink of that one woman and her husband was enough to make the corporation decide that no, it just wasn't worth the trouble. That, compounded with another company's rebuilding of another line, well the offer was pulled back and the city suffered. All because one <blank> didn't know when to shut up and sell.

There is a happy ending to this story though. Well, Happy for the city, but not the lady.

No one knows why it happened, maybe the state got tired of this one woman. More likely they saw the trouble some companies were going through and decided to help. The state passed a law, and what a law it is!

It has recently become legal for transportation companies (road and rail) and cities to sieze land from a citizen without having to pay. Of course, they'll offer the fair market value for it first, but if the owner doesn't accept that, then the city or company can just take it. I hear that progress along the line is doing rather well, and possibly by the end of next year it will be completed. Further, it looks like Amtrak will be coming through anyway. Still, I have to wonder, what's going to happen when that one lady, the one who made such a stink and arse of herself, is told to sell or they'll take it.

Somehow, I suspect this story isn't over yet. I see a second part coming, but that won't be for some time.

The moral of the story is this:

Buyer Beware. If you buy something without making sure that you're paying for everything that comes with it. If later on you find yourself having to pay more, don't complain because you were too lazy to do your research. Sometimes, the price doesn't cover everything included.

Secondly:

If offered fifty thousand dollars for one acre of land and you turn it down, go see a doctor. There is something WRONG with you.

draftermatt
10-31-2006, 12:33 PM
I'm sorry but $50,000 for one acre is not enough in the area I live. $50,000 will only buy you about a 1/4 (or less) acre lot with no house. For example:
http://homes.longandfoster.com/Real-Estate/PropertyDetails.aspx?MlsCompanyID=2&MlsNumber=CR6130677
$75,000
Type: Lot-Land
Lot Size: 0.16 acres

And while I would sell if I found out what I bought was illegal, and then sue the person who solid it to me, the government should have no right to take my land/home. If they give me a "Real fair market value" fine. If not they'll have to pull me off the roof.

DesignFox
10-31-2006, 04:03 PM
Unfortunately, you DO have to be careful when buying property! Research is very important.
Example:
My boyfriend had been house shopping for months. One house he found had everything he wanted. He *almost* invested in it. But as he did his homework, he found out that the land had a stretch going through it that technically the state could use at any time (I forget the term for it). The ORIGINAL owners of the house, had sold the state rights to use their property for a sewage line. This meant that the owners could not build anything on this piece of land- or if they did- the state could tear it down and charge them for it- in order to be able to complete the work needed on the sewage line. The NEXT (and the next, and the next) owners of the house were not made aware of this when they were sold the house. So, they built a garage partially on this strip. When they went to sell the house to my BF, my BF's realtors scoped out the survey, and discovered the state sewer line. So- if my BF had purchased this home- and had the state needed to do work on the sewer line- he would have been responsible for removing the garage and allowing them entry to his property. By law, anyone selling property to you, MUST disclose this information. Unfortunately for the people currently selling this house- well, unless they dig up the original owners/realtors/surveyers- they don't have anyone to sue. And now, their property value has been lowered because of the liability of having a garage over land sold for state use.

Life sucks, doesn't it?

At least my BF found another house with no such liabilities :D

Banrion
10-31-2006, 05:28 PM
And while I would sell if I found out what I bought was illegal, and then sue the person who solid it to me, the government should have no right to take my land/home. If they give me a "Real fair market value" fine. If not they'll have to pull me off the roof.

It's the law of Emminent Domain, which just last year was upheld by the Supreme Court. The concept of Emminent Domain is written in some of the founding documents of the country. The goverment has the right at any time to offer you fair market value and confiscate your property. The specifics of the SC decision last term even allow the government to take your land under Emminent Domain for the sole purpose of turning around and selling it to a third party, as long as the ultimate outcome of the project will result in positive economics for the city/state overall.

The project in question was a multi-billion dollar mall/ amusement park project in CT, and the project had been approved, land sales negotiated, then someone backed out of the land sale agreement. The state was allowed to take the land under Emminent Domain to allow the project to continue as the project would bring in a large number of jobs, tax revenue, and out of state income. The SC determined that the benefit of the mall was of greater interest than protecting the private property of a single citizen.

I'm not saying that you have to be happy about it, or agree with it, but it is legal, and probably not going to change anytime soon.

Cia
10-31-2006, 05:49 PM
Unfortunately, you DO have to be careful when buying property! Research is very important.
Example:
My boyfriend had been house shopping for months. One house he found had everything he wanted. He *almost* invested in it. But as he did his homework, he found out that the land had a stretch going through it that technically the state could use at any time (I forget the term for it). The ORIGINAL owners of the house, had sold the state rights to use their property for a sewage line.

It's an easement. Cities, counties and states can use them for roads, sewer, water or power lines. There can be easements across your land so the property owner next to you can get to their land.

draftermatt
10-31-2006, 06:46 PM
I'm not saying that you have to be happy about it, or agree with it, but it is legal, and probably not going to change anytime soon.

I know, I remember hearing that the Court said it was okay, and screamed. I just don't get it. Especially for "Wer'e going to take your farm and build an amusement park" or other crap.

Sofar
10-31-2006, 07:20 PM
We're going to take your Victorian era home to build this row of (far more profitable) four-storey townhomes. Don't worry, we'll stick some gingerbreading on the vergeboard, there, doesn't that look Victorian? Right out of the eighteen-seventies.

Primer
10-31-2006, 08:41 PM
Back about June, a "For Sale" sign went up on a piece of land just down the road from us. It's about 8.5 acres, and in a great location. We made an offerof $5K below asking price, it was refused. We then upped our offer to the asking price IF the seller would agree to sell via Texas Veteran's Land Board (so we'd get a lower interest rate). He finally agreed. We get all the paperwork going, and the day before the surveyor, which we were going to pay about $1K, was supposed to come out, we got a notice from our realtor....the title search showed that the seller did not own the property! He had deeded it to his wife in his divorce a few years ago. We immediately cancelled the surveyor.

Because TVLB is part of a federal organization, the seller is now looking at some serious legal difficulties. His ex has also filed suit against him.

We're just sitting back and watching the circus. We'd love to be in the courtroom when it all goes down just to hear him try to explain why he thought he could sell a piece of property that isn't his!

We do have an offer in to the ex just in case she decides to sell, but we are not holding our breath. LOL!

repsac
10-31-2006, 11:17 PM
One fact I think will make the company's offer sound better:

In the area I live in, your average acre of land will cost you no more than ten thousand. Normally, it's more around six or seven.

Gurndigarn
10-31-2006, 11:49 PM
I know, I remember hearing that the Court said it was okay, and screamed. I just don't get it. Especially for "Wer'e going to take your farm and build an amusement park" or other crap.

Bug your state people. Nicely. States can limit eminent domain abuses.

repsac
11-01-2006, 12:09 AM
I think in our case (my state) the reasoning behind it was based on the state's condition itself. Suffice to say, my state is one of the poorest in the nation. So, when presented with the problem of making things better, in some cases the only way they could do so would be to take land. I don't have to like it either, but I can understand to some degree why it has to be done.

Gurndigarn
11-01-2006, 12:42 AM
Well, keep in mind that eminent domain isn't inherintly bad. It was put into the constitution because of problems back during the confederation days (as in Articles of Confederation days, not the N/S brouhaha) that the constituional commitee wanted to avoid... it's the same reason supreme court justices are appointed for life, states aren't allowed to tax items being shipped through their states, and stuff like that. Problems came up that they wanted to fix this time around.

And most of the time when eminent domain abuse is called, it's not really abuse... there really is a need for what they need to build, and either it needs to be right there (highways, for instance), or it has to go somewhere and no matter where its put, the locals are going to scream (like, say, jails).

While it sucks to be on the losing end of the argument, there is usually a need.

Usually. Malls are a gray area. I'ld be more positive towards them*, except that we have too damn much retail in this nation already, and shoving people out of the way just to build yet another mall doesn't usually seem worth it.

Personally, in the cases of private development, before the government steps in with heavy hands, I'ld prefer to see it go to a common vote, and require at least 2/3 majority, possibly 3/4.


* In the cases where all but one or two people are willing to sell their land and you have a couple individuals blocking something that almost everyone else is willing to do.

Mark Healey
11-01-2006, 01:06 AM
Buyer Beware. If you buy something without making sure that you're paying for everything that comes with it. If later on you find yourself having to pay more, don't complain because you were too lazy to do your research. Sometimes, the price doesn't cover everything included.

Isn't that what escrow companies are for? I think the old lady should have to give up the land and sue her escrow company for the loss.

Secondly:

If offered fifty thousand dollars for one acre of land and you turn it down, go see a doctor. There is something WRONG with you.[/QUOTE]

Maybe where you live but where I am it wouldn't buy a paking space.

Mark Healey
11-01-2006, 01:09 AM
It has recently become legal for transportation companies (road and rail) and cities to sieze land from a citizen without having to pay. Of course, they'll offer the fair market value for it first, but if the owner doesn't accept that, then the city or company can just take it. I hear that progress along the line is doing rather well, and possibly by the end of next year it will be completed. Further, it looks like Amtrak will be coming through anyway. Still, I have to wonder, what's going to happen when that one lady, the one who made such a stink and arse of herself, is told to sell or they'll take it.

That won't survive a constitutional challange.

Mark Healey
11-01-2006, 01:26 AM
Bug your state people. Nicely. States can limit eminent domain abuses.

In Califonria there is a proposition to end eminent domain abuse and regulatory takings. It's the only one I'm voting for.

I live in San Diego where some of the most egregious examples of this have occured. They took a bunch of land to build a sports stadium downtown. They also took a bunch of land surrounding the stadium site to sell to their developer cronies and bargain basement rates. Here's the worst part. There are a bunch of environmental cleanup costs that come up when there is a transfer of title. The city deducted those from what they paid their victims.

The funny thing is that it has had the oposite effect of what they wanted. The restaurants thought they would get a bunch of traffic form stadium events. It didn't happen. Sports fans want to go to Hooters, not a quiet yuppy place.

The supreme court was just plain wrong on this one. The Constiution allows eminent domain for "pulic use", There were just a bunch of lefties on the court who think that anything the state says is for some "public good" is public use.

Mark Healey
11-01-2006, 01:28 AM
(my state)

Which one would that be?

protege
11-01-2006, 04:17 AM
Usually. Malls are a gray area. I'ld be more positive towards them*, except that we have too damn much retail in this nation already, and shoving people out of the way just to build yet another mall doesn't usually seem worth it.

Around here, we have too many damn malls. I'm all for creating jobs. However, what's been happening here, is they'll build a shopping center on one side of the road...and then later another one across the street, or further down the street. What eventually happens, is businesses will usually move from one to the other, in effect, simply *transferring* the jobs around, rather than creating new ones.

DesignFox
11-01-2006, 04:21 AM
What sometimes happens, too- If say, Mall A has a set number of stores that Mall B doesn't have- and the company adds the same stores into Mall B at a later date- the traffic that was exclusive to Mall A shifts to Mall B, and the employees of Mall A suffer. Less customers means less payroll to go around...so yes, some new jobs are created- but some other working individuals get less hours and need to find other jobs...shifting people around even more...and sometimes screwing managers out of their yearly bonuses because there is just no way in hell they can make up the sales they are losing out to Mall B.

Knifeman
11-01-2006, 01:55 PM
It's the law of Emminent Domain, which just last year was upheld by the Supreme Court. The concept of Emminent Domain is written in some of the founding documents of the country. .


Yes, and in the founding documents of the country, it's ILLEGAL.

Third and Fourth Ammendment protects SPECIFICALLY personal property rights.

trunks2k
11-01-2006, 02:39 PM
Yes, and in the founding documents of the country, it's ILLEGAL.

Third and Fourth Ammendment protects SPECIFICALLY personal property rights.

The third and fourth amendments are about quartering of troops during peace time (can during time of war with enacted laws) and unreasonable search and seisure respectively. These do NOT in any way protect against the government taking property for eminent domain.

The fifth amendment, which states that a person cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process allows for eminent domain, provided there is due process. What is and isn't due process is up for debate.

The recent SCOTUS ruling on eminent domain may be annoying, but in a strictly legal sense, it was the right thing. The US constitution does not specifically define what is and isn't appropriate for eminent domain to be used because what is and isn't considered public use is not strictly defined. So, the court ruled that states have the right to define what is considered public use.

SongsOfDragons
11-01-2006, 09:08 PM
We're going to take your Victorian era home to build this row of (far more profitable) four-storey townhomes. Don't worry, we'll stick some gingerbreading on the vergeboard, there, doesn't that look Victorian? Right out of the eighteen-seventies.

We're going to take this beautiful, pre-Victorian market house located in the heart of Winchester, delist it from Listed Buildings, knock it down and build a multi-storey car park on it, in the middle of a pedestrianised zone and forgetting that the market inside has been going for generations in the same families.

Bastards.

skeptic53
11-02-2006, 08:38 AM
There is a true civic need for emininent domain, for things like schools, sewage treatment facilities, etc.

Then there is the reality of corruption, cronyism and who gets rich off the "fair market value" paid to those who lose their property for a sports stadium, mall, industrial park or what have you. "Jobs" are created that have no pension, sometimes no benefits, in the case of malls often pay minimum wage.

Any of you folks old enough to remember the movie "Chinatown"? If not, go rent it. Great movie, stars Jack Nicholson. Part of the plot has to do with skullduggery involving bringing water to Los Angeles in the first half of the 20th century.