Jim Yarosh settles case for clients facing condemnation for storm water project

Two brothers, their spouses, and their elderly mother own an approximately 400-acre active farm in the southeast suburbs of the Twin Cities that is adjacent to development.

For many years, the local Watershed District notified the brothers that it intended to place a storm sewer pipe that would cut through the middle of their farmland. Finally, after years of talk, last spring, the Watershed District obtained appraisals for the purchase of the necessary easements for the pipe and made an offer to the family. Because it needed the land to complete an ongoing project, it had authorized eminent domain, i.e. the forced taking of the needed property if the parties could not agree on a price for its acquisition. The landowners hired Jim Yarosh after the Watershed District made its offer of a little more than one million dollars. Following five months of negotiations, Jim obtained an agreement to pay his clients over two million dollars.

The storm sewer pipes affected the future development of the family’s property. The actual land area desired by the Watershed District was 12 acres. They offered a relatively reasonable price per acre for the land, but it ignored the impact of the project on the future residential development of the land. It offered very little compensation for the impacts on the land remaining after the purchase or taking of the easements — what is referred to as “severance damages.”

Jim hired experts who showed that the property could have been developed had the Watershed District not needed the property and that their preferred location for the easements made the property worth less, too. The impact of the easements caused much more damage to the remaining property than had been recognized by the Watershed District. “We determined that the inefficiencies created by locating the storm sewer pipe through the middle of the property would cause the loss of many developable lots,” says Jim. “The damage to the remaining property was significant and had not been recognized by the Watershed District.”

Given Jim and his experts’ thorough analysis of the impacts upon the property, the Watershed District accepted the counteroffer made by Jim on behalf of his clients in total and the parties entered into an agreement to sell the desired easements, thereby avoiding litigation.

Because the amount of damages accepted by the Watershed District were so much greater than the amount initially offered, it agreed to pay all of the family’s costs in preparing their damage analysis, including legal fees incurred to the point of settlement.

“I was pleased we were able to convince the Watershed District of the strength of our position,” says Jim. “I believe both of the parties appreciated how the matter was handled and how quickly it was resolved.”