Landowner sees legal compensation for eminent domain: Weatherford TX Democrat, 8/30/06

Willow Park reimburses Mitchell after condemnation clouds property for months

By Galen Scott

Annetta landowner William Mitchell confirmed a settlement Wednesday with the City of Willow Park concerning approximately 30 acres of land condemned under the power of eminent domain.

Willow Park officials condemned the property, which was identified as a possible location for a regional wastewater treatment facility, in September of last year. According to Mitchell, the city has now agreed to reimburse approximately $15,000 he spent on legal fees defending the property.

The condemnation was lifted weeks after Mitchell sponsored a billboard in February which read, “help stop eminent domain abuse in Parker County.”

Willow Park officials reversed course and joined other area municipalities in a regional wastewater treatment feasibility study designed to address a broad spectrum of issues, including geographic feasibility.

Willow Park Mayor Brad Johnson explained after the city decided to participate in the regional study, it backed off on the condemnation and felt an obligation to reimburse Mitchell for any expenses he incurred.

Johnson noted however, there were negotiations with Mitchell prior to the eminent domain action.

“Eminent domain was not the first step that was taken,” he said. “There were some hoops that we attempted to jump through prior to the eminent domain action.”

Though apparently satisfied with the settlement, Mitchell maintains the move was an abuse of power and said the use of eminent domain is out of control in Texas.

“The land they eminent domained was way out of their city limits and nobody asked them to come outside of their city limits and become a water and sewer provider,” Mitchell said Wednesday. “My definition of eminent domain — stealing the things others work for.”

Johnson said he expects some information from the regional wastewater study by the end of the year or the beginning of 2007.

Weatherford TX Democrat: http://www.weatherforddemocrat.com