Town Takes Parcel, Owner Sues for Fair Market Value

Town Takes Parcel, Owner Sues for Fair Market Value

The Legal Battle for Fair Compensation in Eminent Domain Cases


In 2007, the plaintiff bought a 21, 557 square feet lot with a retail building and storage area across the Saugus River at the Belden Bly Bridge on Route 107 to complement the marina and boat maintenance facility. In 2018, the property was taken under eminent domain by MassDOT in connection to a public project to replace the aging bridge. After tendering a pro tanto payment of $380, 000, the plaintiff filed a suit alleging that the amount was unjust and substantially below the fair market value of the property on the date of taking. With the help of a local real estate attorney and zoning expert, the plaintiff’s expert real estate appraiser was able to prove that the property’s highest and best use at the time of taking was retail/commercial or residential development, valuing it between $750, 000 and $1 million. After negotiations, the taking authority agreed to pay an additional $500, 000, bringing the total compensation to $880, 000, which was paid in full.

Expert Witness

Richard M. Magnan of Saugus, lawyer, was the most helpful expert in the case as he was able to provide insight on the legal aspects of the Waterfront Mixed Use Overlay District and how it could have benefitted the value of the plaintiff’s property.

Eminent Domain and Fair Compensation

Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use, provided that the owner receives fair compensation. In this case, the plaintiff was able to challenge the initial pro tanto payment and obtain a higher amount through expert testimony and negotiation. It is important for property owners to have access to legal and valuation expertise in order to ensure they receive just compensation in eminent domain cases.

Implications for Future Cases

The adoption of the Waterfront Mixed Use Overlay District by the town of Saugus highlights the potential for changes in zoning and land use regulations to affect the value of property. In future cases, similar changes in regulations may play a role in determining fair compensation for the taking of property under eminent domain. It is important for property owners and legal counsel to stay informed about such changes and their potential impacts on property value.

Long-tail Keywords: eminent domain, fair compensation, expert witness, valuation, zoning, land use regulations.

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