South-Western Legal Studies in Business

No Right to Damages from Change in View Due to Highway Construction
Description

Colorado high court held that a property owner, whose property was blocked from view by new construction along a highway, had no right to change in property value due to the change in visibility. The only compensation due is for property taken for construction purposes.

Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words

Taking; Eminent Domain; Compensation; Right to Visibility

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

T-REX is a huge freeway and light rail project in the Denver area. The construction meant rebuilding interchanges, widening roads, and other changes in the area along I-25. Part of the construction meant that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) condemned a strip of land about 10,000 square feet in size, which is about two percent of the parcel owned by Marilyn Hickey Ministries d/b/a Happy Church at an intersection on the interstate. CDOT and the Regional Transportation District (RTD) constructed a concrete retaining wall on the condemned property. Happy Church sued for $1.9 million in damages for the obstruction of the view of the church from the Interstate. The trial court held that the obstruction in view was not subject to compensation; the church received $259,000 in compensation for the value of the land taken. Happy Church appealed and the court of appeals reversed in its favor. CDOT appealed.

Decision

Reversed and remanded. In eminent domain proceedings arising from the taking of a portion of a landowner’s property alongside a transit corridor, the landowner could not seek compensation for the loss of passing motorists’ view of the landowner’s property that was caused by building the retaining wall. The landowner never had a right to continued traffic passing its land, so it has no right to continued motorist visibility of its land.

Citation

Department of Transportation v. Marilyn Hickey Ministries, 159 P.3d 111 (Sup. Ct., Colo., 2007)

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