Developer awarded $675,000 in ITD right-of-way dispute - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Developer awarded $675,000 in ITD right-of-way dispute

Firm sought more for right of way along U.S. 95 at Athol

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Posted: Saturday, June 16, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - A commercial developer has been awarded $675,000 for 16 acres of right of way along U.S. 95 at Athol after a condemnation dispute with the Idaho Transportation Department.

H.J. Grathol, which is owned by Hughes Investments, had sought $2 million after asking for about $3 million earlier during negotiations.

Judge Charles Hosack recently made the decision in First District Court in Coeur d'Alene.

Hughes owns 56 acres at the northeast corner of Highway 54 and U.S. 95 at Athol and is planning a travel center, grocery store and hotel near where the state is constructing a new interchange.

A $21 million, 5-mile widening project under way in the Athol and Granite areas will include an elevated interchange.

"I think everyone lost except the attorneys," said Alan Johnson of Hughes. "We didn't get the true fair market value for our property, were awarded no severance damages, and the taxpayers have to fund legal billings."

Barbara Babic, ITD spokeswoman, said the agency incurred $870,000 in attorney fees during the case.

"ITD incurred considerable expenses in litigating this case, but in doing so, it was able to save the taxpayers ... (from paying a higher price for the land)," Babic said.

ITD intends to seek the recovery of the costs and attorney fees, Babic said.

The deadline for appeals is July 16.

Johnson said fair market value for the land was proven to be about $2.5 million during the case. He said his firm spent about $250,000 on the case.

"ITD builds great roads, but I am appalled at how heavy-handed they are when they condemn private property," Johnson said.

Babic said ITD is pleased with the court ruling because it demonstrated ITD's process for assessing the value of property needed for highway improvements is fair and just.

"It is unfortunate that ITD and H.J. Grathol needed to go to court to settle the dispute," Babic said. "More than 95 percent of the time when ITD needs to purchase land from a citizen or business for highway improvements, a fair settlement is reached without needing to go to court."

ITD officials said right-of-way disputes involving ITD have only gone to trial one other time in North Idaho in the past 20 years.

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  • the floorist posted at 4:55 pm on Mon, Jun 18, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    Very true AT. Only because I know people in that vicinity is how I even know about this section of the GARVEE deal that has been in planning for at least 8 years.

    The acreage in question is really commercial frontage. Since the State moved in and declared their intentions to fix the Granite Hill curve the stakes changed all together. Just because a wider highway with frontage roads is coming through doesn't mean ALL property is considered commercial when in reality a percentage was considered R-4...I think...Athol and all.

    All the people affected by the highway fix naturally wanted more money. The ONLY guy who got away with putting the State in its place was the metal recycling guy. His property makes a handsome profit and he proved it in spades to the State. Idaho left that dude be...

  • ancientemplar posted at 12:21 pm on Mon, Jun 18, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1287

    Floorist, How was the 16 acres zoned? Was it commercially zoned? If so then the developer should have gotten the same consideration as the appraiser assigned to the land under the DeArmand Mill land in the "education corridor" in Cd'A, TOP DOLLAR at the time of action. It makes absolutely no difference what the current land use is.

  • the floorist posted at 9:04 am on Mon, Jun 18, 2012.

    the floorist Posts: 331

    My friend owned the 17.2 acres to the right of hwy 95 at the big curve/hill at the Granite Hill site. He was compensated fairly and the State covered his moving expenses as well. This developer was intent on receiving commercial compensation. The area in question has old run down buildings and the question of commercial compensation for condemned buildings is flawed. He's lucky he got the $675,000 plus attorney fees...

  • JoeIdaho posted at 8:46 pm on Sat, Jun 16, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    will, you're confused.
    Judgment GIVEN, Attornies fees for Plaintiff, CITIZEN, paid, damages awarded in the amount of $675,000 to CITIZEN after Attorney Fees.
    ITD will NOT get their attorney fees paid.
    This is just another TYPICAL example of government run amock.

  • will-- posted at 9:32 am on Sat, Jun 16, 2012.

    will-- Posts: 1213

    Eminent domain is always a tough one to beat, it's the worst time for property values too. Sounds like it's not over yet either. ITD has a good chance at getting their attorney's fees paid.

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