MBTA pays $200K in eminent domain case: Cohasset (MA) Mariner, 5/27/05

By Samantha Brown

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority [MBTA] has paid a settlement 10 times that of their original offer to a Cohasset couple whose land was taken by eminent domain as part of the Greenbush line construction.

William and Huguette Stone were the owners of a vacant lot at 383 South Main St., of which the MBTA took a portion by eminent domain last November. The government has the right to take private land by eminent domain for public use, and there is usually compensation awarded to the owner in return.

Although the MBTA originally offered $20,000 for the property, the couple's attorney Peter E. Flynn of Saugus said a complaint was filed in Norfolk Superior Court and an agreement has been reached, paying compensation to the Stones in the amount of $200,000.

"We were thrilled to obtain ten times the MBTA's original offer and present the Stones with a check for an additional $200,000," said Flynn, adding it was especially important for his clients that they were able to come to a resolution quickly, "while also avoiding lengthy, costly, and uncertain litigation."

The land was taken from the Stones Nov. 1, 2004, and at that time the MBTA felt its offer of $20,000 was proper compensation. However, Flynn said the Stones were not happy with the settlement and filed a complaint in Norfolk Superior Court Dec. 7.

Although litigation was filed, Flynn said, "Negotiations with the MBTA continued, which allowed us to come to an agreement quickly and withdraw the complaint before further pursuing the litigation."

The complaint alleges the compensation was "inadequate and does not reflect the fair market value of the property taken, and/or damages to the plaintiff's remaining property." Flynn explained the land is reasonably suited for some limited development, but that "Any development would encounter issues relating to the presence of wetlands, access, and a right of way over a railroad line," once construction of the Greenbush line is complete.

Through much negotiation, the $200,000 settlement was reached, and the Stones filed a notice of voluntary dismissal in Norfolk Superior Court March 15. Flynn said he and his clients are very happy with the outcome, adding while construction of the Greenbush line is somewhat controversial, it is a "worthy project."

spokesman Joseph Pesaturo said in order to build the Greenbush line, the MBTA has taken roughly 90 pieces of property by eminent domain throughout the entire 17-mile Greenbush corridor. There have been 30 eminent domain cases negotiated with property owners and nine property owners, including the Stones, have challenged the MBTA's taking price and have filed lawsuits.

The Greenbush Line is the third leg of the Old Colony Railroad Restoration Project, and is being built as mitigation for the Central Artery/Tunnel Project in downtown Boston. The project will stretch for 17 miles and once complete, will restore train service from Scituate to South Station. The project is intended to reduce automobile traffic on the congested highways leading into the city. According to the MBTA, the project will cost roughly $479 million including planning, engineering, land and permitting costs, along with the cost of construction and new trains.

Cohasset Mariner: www2.townonline.com/cohasset