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County To Seize Owner’s Century-Old Property For …. This?

eminent domain mississippi river minnesotaTwo Minnesota sisters lost their father, and now may lose the land he loved due to an eminent domain order by Dakota County.

Dakota County wants to build a bike trail on the property and refused to accept a property easement offer by the sisters to accomplish their task. Some properties have been owned by the same family for more than a century. The county is taking the families to court.

Sisters Joni Sargent and Nancy Drews offered to sell just over one acre of land to the county for the bike path, even though they did not want to part with any of their father’s property, which has been in the family since 1960. According to statements by the sisters, the county opted against the offer and voted during a closed door session to take the entire 10-acres via eminent domain statutes.

“Our father meant to leave this property to us and our children,” Sargent said.

Drews noted during multiple media interview that the sisters had spent their entire lives on the Mississippi River property, which also includes a marina.

Drews said she is feeling “totally overwhelmed.”

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“Totally overwhelmed,” Drews said. “I have heart issues, and my heart has been fighting this since Nov. 5. It’s horrible. … It just means way too much to us. We can’t lose it.”

Other local residents also are fighting back against the county’s quest to acquire 120-acres of land inside the Spring Lake Park Reserve.

Bill Sorg’s family and ancestors have owned the land where he resides since 1896.

“They want all of our river frontage, which we think is awful nice to have,” Sorg told WSMP.

Dakota County Park Director Steve Sullivan said:

That riverfront is important to protecting the shoreline, protecting the Mississippi River water quality, and also providing opportunity for public access.

Dakota County officials offered the sisters $370,000 for the property, but the sisters rejected it.

“Probably four years ago, our dad said he could get $1.3 million for it,” Sargent told WMSP.

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Dakota County reportedly has until March 31 to garner a $3 million federal grant to build the bike path, camper cabins and picnic area.

Eminent domain was once rarely used and reserved only for major public works projects. If a bike path and public access to an enjoyable outdoor area is all the government needs to claim your property, millions of homeowners across the United States are at risk.

My husband and I are currently searching for our perfect piece of land, and may have found it. The horse lover’s dream property I found abuts a national forest. We could buy the land and a few months from now the US Forest Service could decide they want to expand their trails, and we could lose what we thought we owned – all while losing money.

It seems at least once a month a heartbreaking eminent domain case is making national headlines.

Why do you think eminent domain cases are becoming more prevalent in the United States?

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