Homeowners gather to discuss legal options in diversion battleChristine, ND (WDAY TV) - Nothing is for certain yet, but now with only congressional approval needed, homeowners who might be bought out because of the Red River Diversion are discovering what kind of legal ground they have to stand on.
Nothing is for certain yet, but now with only congressional approval needed, homeowners who might be bought out because of the Red River Diversion are discovering what kind of legal ground they have to stand on.
Nearly one hundred people gathered in the Christine Community center to learn about eminent domain and property acquisition. When the government is acquiring a farm, a home or a business, they are supposed to provide just compensation, but providing just compensation for a family home or farmstead is impossible for many.
Ray Holzhey – Lives in Hickson, ND: “A lot of the square miles that could be places I could replace my house on are also underwater. So it's going to be extremely difficult to find a similar property.”
It's a meeting that's strictly informational at this point, but a chief concern among many farmers is future earnings. It’s something they believe they deserve compensation for.
Igor Lenzner – Attorney, Rinke Noonan: “Generally under the Fifth Amendment, you are not entitled to your future revenues that you would have had other than the fact they add value to the value of the property today.”
Property values have plummeted in areas like Oxbow that face the threat of being bought out, but the acquiring agency is supposed to provide fair market value for the home - the price the home was worth without the black cloud of diversion driving down value.
Igor Lenzner: “What's difficult in this market is that it's such a strong market, prices are moving so fast. If someone gets paid today, they go out and buy something next week, prices have gone up.”
It's a process nobody in this crowd is looking forward too. And if the diversion is approved, most, if not all of these people will lose their homes and farms.
But the one thing attorney Igor Lenzner wants to make sure people understand is that they have rights too.
Igor Lenzner: “It's not a process to fear. The process of whether it's eminent domain or a voluntary purchase process, that process is designed to ensure the rights of the property owners are protected, they are adequately compensated and their moving expenses are covered.”
Congress also passed the Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970 to further protect property and home owners.
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