Meridian couple faces eminent domain
Meridian couple isn't happy. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
You’ve heard of eminent domain – the government’s right to take your property without your consent.
The government is supposed to pay you “fair market value” for it – but what if the government wanted to take your land today – at rock bottom real estate prices?
One Meridian couple is facing that very situation.
The Ada County Highway District wants to turn the intersection of Eagle and Amity into a roundabout. To do that, they need part of Dan and Jo Luke’s property and they say they need it now.
More than 100 flags and signs at Eagle and Amity send a message: These land owners aren’t happy.
“Every time I get upset I put 20 more flags out because I don’t know what else to do,” said Dan Luke.
In January, ACHD made an offer to Dan and Jo Luke. The Lukes say the offer was approximately $1 per square foot.
They were hoping to sell their land when they were ready to retire and once the market got better.
But they’re also concerned about how the project would affect their animals - and their daily lives.
The project would take their property line up to a few feet from their bedroom window.
“I am afraid a car’s going to come running into my bedroom. How am I going to sleep now? I just don’t like anything. It’s going to have lights shining in our house all the time,” said Jo Luke.
The Lukes rejected the offer and on Wednesday, made a plea before ACHD commissioners.
Still, commissioners voted to condemn the property – which means eminent domain proceeds, and it goes to a judge.
Commissioners told the Luke’s that the vote doesn’t mean the negotiations stop – but it does mean the project moves forward.
They also instructed the project supervisor to look into some of the Luke’s specific concerns.
One commissioner voted no, saying he hadn’t had a chance to communicate with the Lukes first.
“Anytime property has to be taken away it’s not a good thing. We try to work with floks and come up with a reasonable solution,” said ACHD Commissioner David Case. “Sometimes there are just situations where things can’t be negotiated and we end up having to go this route.”
The Lukes say they’re hopeful the project managers will address their concerns and offer them just compensation. They say they can’t afford a lawyer.
The issue will go to a judge unless it can be settled out of court.