1600 Lakeside Drive
Virginia Department of Transportation's Idea of a Fair Offer
An Example of Eminent Domain in Action
1600 Lakeside Drive, York County Virginia
Shown below is a sketch of some property we bought to develop on Lakeside Drive. Actually we planned to build on part of the property and sell off two lots to defray costs. The property fronts on both Lakeside Drive and Patrick's Creek Road it was a natural for sub-division. Water and sewer were available to all four lots and their size was large enough to be within the county guidelines for zoning, set backs lot width etc. Lakeside Drive runs along the northern boundary of the property and Patrick's Creek Road along the southern boundary; thus giving all four lots access to utilities and road frontage.
Shortly after purchase we discovered that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) planned to take a portion of our newly acquired property, to locate a drainage settlement pond there, as part of the project to widen Lakeside Drive. Not knowing exactly what they planned to take put out plans on hold for sometime.
Needless to say we were perplexed by this; but laws granting eminent domain call for fair compensation of property seized right? Well my idea of Fair Compensation and the State's is certainly different. See what you think from the facts below!
Crosshatched area is roughly what the state is seizing
That area according to them is 30,786 square feet or 0.70808 acres. I am sure you can see that after the portion they are seizing is removed; the remainder of that lot is of little value since it no longer has access to the roadway.
The delay in our project has already cost a great deal. We have been forced to wait for VDOT to finalize it's plans and present an offer. The delay is now approaching two years from the time we acquired the property and found out, at a public hearing, that VDOT's initial plan were to locate the holding pond spanning equally across the two lots fronting the north (Lakeside Drive). This would have ruined both lots by cutting off their 150 minimum frontage to roadway. After working with VDOT engineers they relocated the pond to the currently shown position. Had it not been for this VDOT project the two lots would have been on the market long ago. Instead we have had to make payments, have additional survey work performed and pay additional taxes on the property while we waited for VDOT to finally make an offer; since we could not sub-divide until we received VDOT's final plan.
Most of you reading this have an idea of what the value of a .7 acre lot is in York County these days from your tax assessment. I know I do. But the VDOT appears to have it's head in the sand. Their FAIR MARKET offer is shown below.
That's right $36,943 for 0.7 acres of land. Oh and $21,499 to compensate for the damages to the other lots because they will now be located next to a toxic waste holding pond. Can you spell RIP OFF!!!!!
Below is a map showing properties surrounding this one; and below that a table showing the current York County Tax assessed value of these surrounding properties.
I think any reasonable person can see from the table above that the FAIR MARKET value of the 1.347 acre lot being destroyed by this seizure should be approximately the same as the 1.37 acre lot right next to it who's tax assessed value is $147,400.00. (ref. Number 1).
Even if one discounted the negative effects of locating a toxic waste holding pond on the property and the fact that the larger and more valuable lot is being rendered unusable. The value of the 0.7 acres being seized alone should be approximately the same as the two 0.699 acre lots nearby who's tax assessed values are $110,000.00 each (ref. Number 8 & 9). Remember that tax assessed values are normally 10-15 % below market.
I told the VDOT that that were way off and asked them make an offer closer to reality. The response was the best they could do was to raise the offer by $10,000.00. VDOT stated they would go ahead and file a "certificate" with the court to take the property.
The assertion that VDOT's offer is FAIR MARKET value is an insult to ones intelligence.
Can anyone wonder why individuals around the country are so upset with eminent domain. Individuals in fact are NOT offered fair market value for their property but rather BULLDOZED both figuratively and literally by those who abuse their authority.
Yes they presented the required formal appraisal, they had performed, which supported their offer. I ask you to use your common sense, given the arms length tax assessed values shown above, does VDOT's offer even approach fair market value. For more on VDOT's appraisal click HERE.
Yes we can and will fight this in court and attempt to get fair market value for our property. Of coarse the lawyers will get one third of that. So by making extremely unreasonable offers the VDOT places undo pressure on individuals.
I suspect we are not alone in having this tactic applied to coerce an unreasonable settlement. I can only hope that a trial commission will see the complete insanity of their offer and award realistic compensation and damages.
I sent the following email to Ms. Wilmans the VDOT Right of Way Agent Specialist, who signed the offer, on January 31, 2006 and have heard no response since then so I assume VDOT does not disagree with the facts.
Your welcome! As I stated in my email that was just a quick response and our concerns and they will be expanded and presented better in the future. I wanted to be sure you understood why I feel that VDOT's offer is not responsive with regard to the eminent domain laws governing fair compensation. I firmly believe that tax assessed values, determined neither by myself or by an appraiser hired by VDOT, are independent and likely to carry more weight with the court.
If VDOT should change it's mind and decide to make a more reasonable offer I would of coarse post that to the website as well. I will be working on the website during the remainder of this week to enhance the look and feel as well as provide additional information before working to publish the facts to a wider audience. If VDOT disagrees with any of the facts please inform me so that I may consider making corrections before wide spread publication.
The Following email sent on 2/3/2006
I have polished up the website expressing our concerns regarding the seizure of property from 1600 Lakeside drive by VDOT. Again I would invite VDOT to review the information and respond if there is disagreement with any of the facts presented. If I have received no response I will assume there is no disagreement and proceed to publish the site to a wider audience begining Monday February 6, 2006.
I have heard no replay from VDOT. I am sending the following final email now on 7 February 2006.
The following email sent Friday February 10, 2006 was received from VDOT:
We have reviewed the information on your website. It appears that some of your information is incorrect. We do not conduct negotiations with landowners in a public forum or on the internet. Based on the information on your website it appears that you do not have a complete understanding of the appraisal process. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to review and explain the appraisal and answer any questions that you have.
The following response was transmitted in response to the above at 3:30pm Friday February 10, 2006:
Last Edited: 2008-05-14 08:18 PM -0500