Last week a jury in Boone County, Arkansas awarded two landowners $341,500 for private property condemned by the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority. The verdict represents an increase of more that five times the $67,000 offer made to the owners by the water authority for their 29.87 acres.
In 2010, Ozark Mountain condemned a portion of the property's 809.82 acres for the construction of a water intake and treatment facility. The condemnation resulted in the loss of lake access for the remaining 779.95 acres. Of the 29.87 acres acquired, 20.36 acres were taken by Ozark Mountain to construct a 15 acre water treatment facility site and for buffer areas around the intake facility. The remaining 9.51 acres were encumbered by permanent easements for the construction and use of roadways, transmission pipelines, and electrical distribution lines to service the facility which will supply water from Bull Shoals Lake to several cities, towns, and water associations in Boone, Newton, Marion, and Searcy Counties.
Attorneys for the the landowners, Michael B. Phillips and Brandon Moffitt, asked the jury for $468,000 for the takings. After three days of testimony, the twelve person jury deliberated for approximately an hour and a half before returning with their verdict of $341,500 as just compensation for the property taken.
[Disclosure: Michael B. Phillips is the Arkansas Member of the Owners' Counsel of America. Mr. Phillips and his partner, Brandon Moffitt, of Moffitt & Phillips, PLLC in Little Rock, represent property owners throughout Arkansas in condemnation proceedings.]