Because of its first-person sincere-sounding tale of a citizen’s confrontation with a lowball offer, and its happy ending, we reproduce this story in its entirety.
Jack Remembers: In eminent domain, if God can be miserly so can elected officials, Richmond News (On line), Apr.25, 2014.
By Jack Hackley
This is an election year and few people realize when they vote for mayor, aldermen, county commissioners and some state officials, they are actually giving these people the right to take their property at whatever price they so desire.
It is called “power of eminent domain.” It is the ultimate power we give our elected officials and it should not be abused.
Our farm is located on the edge of town bordering I-70. We have been hit with eminent domain seven times, probably a state record. All have been a disaster, and the last one the worst. The city of Oak Grove put in a new sewer plant and had to go through a high fertility field on our property with 2,000 ft. of sewer line and five manholes. For this 20-foot easement and five manholes that we would have to farm around forever, we were offered $145. The city had paid an appraiser $7,000 to come up with that figure.
The mayor at the time had publically stated that God had made all of his decisions pertaining to the city. After being offered $145, he had almost convinced me that God was a miser.
When I complained to him and the aldermen, they informed me that the city manager was handling this acquisition. When I went to the city manager, he informed me that since they had to take us to court it was now in the hands of the city attorney and his associates.
I was never able to determine what the city paid a fleet of lawyers from Lee’s Summit to go before a Lexington judge to defend the $145 offer.
Everyone I communicated with in the exercise of eminent domain across our property, the only fair one was the judge who told the lawyers and the city administrator to go back to Oak Grove and negotiate in good faith.
We had to hire a lawyer and finally received $12,000 instead of $145.
So remember when you vote, ask yourself this question: “If this office holder takes my property, will he give me a fair price?”
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or jack…@aol.com. Visit www.jackremembers.com
Postscript: With all due respect, Mr. Hackley’s statement that government officials can give land owners whatever price they desire for land being taken, is incorrect. As Mr. Hackley demonstrates, you can fight city hall and win. All it takes is a competent lawyer who knows his business, who in this case saw to it that Mr. Hackley was awarded over ten times the amount of money the county offered for his land.