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Blue Water Bridge Expansion: Analysis on Government’s Right to Plan

Blue Water Bridge Expansion: Analysis on Government’s Right to Plan

Although property acquisition and demolition progressed rapidly for the 125 residential properties located within the Blue Water Bridge Expansion Project footprint, there appears to be no time frame for completing the acquisition of the remaining 16 commercial properties and demolition of the 30 commercial properties located with in the project’s foot print.

Photo courtesy of MDOT

Photo courtesy of MDOT

MDOT spokesman Janet Foran did state that the acquisition and demolition of the remaining commercial properties are next on MDOT’s list, although she could not give an estimated date of completion.  MDOT will continue its efforts to obtain federal funds to complete the project.

For the remaining commercial property owners, there are concerns regarding the time line of the acquisition and how the demolition is negatively affecting business.  We get calls from property owners who ask us if we can force the government to take their property because the planning and implementation of the project is taking so long.  The threat of acquisition and  eminent domain looming sometime in the future creates havoc for property owners and their businesses;  some suffer a loss of business and others struggle with the uncertainty of when and where they will relocate to.

When we get these calls, we unfortunately have to say that the general answer is no, there is nothing we can do to force the government to take property now.  There are some exceptions, but in most cases, courts have said on repeated occasions that governmental authorities that have the right to take property have a lot of latitude to plan.  In order to be able to get their taking right from what they believe is right, the courts have said that they have the right to take the time to plan, to make public inquiries, to have public hearings, put out different proposals, and alternatives, and make sure the appraisal process is done in a way that they see fit.   This process does not rise to the level of a taking that would justify a property owner to receive just compensation.

However, as a property owner threatened with eminent domain, learning more about your rights and exercising these rights will help ensure you are treated as fairly as possible.  For example, you have the right to receive just compensation for your property and in some cases, your attorneys fees and costs you incur in your pursuit of just compensation will be paid for by the condemning authority.

For more information on the project itself, or to view detailed maps and layouts of the project, read our previous blog post on the project:  Blue Water Bridge Expansion Project.

Lastly, read more information on Michigan Eminent Domain to learn more about the attorney fee recovery statute in the state of Michigan and your rights as a property owner.


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