In the event that the APSC approves the project and the Arkansas Court of Appeals does not uphold STO’s appeal of that decision, SWEPCO’s first steps will include obtaining rights to the 900-1,000 acres of land that the transmission line will occupy. Virtually all of this land is, at present, the private property of several hundred landowners.
SWEPCO will contract with appraisers to determine the ownership of each traversed property and the `fair market value’ of the desired 150-foot wide strip across each property. SWEPCO will then send land agents to the landowners, asking for their signatures on easement agreements in return for a sum of money – either the so-called ’fair market value’ of the land to be taken for the transmission line right-of-way or a sum arrived at through negotiation.
Landowners who reject SWEPCO’s monetary offer and refuse to sign easement agreements will eventually face legal action. SWEPCO will file lawsuits under the state law that gives the investor-owned utility the power of eminent domain when the APSC approves its application.
Landowners can expect to be ordered by the court to concede their property to SWEPCO. At the same time, however, the court will order SWEPCO to give each landowner a sum of money that is determined by a jury of the landowner’s peers.
In some cases, courts have ordered utility companies to compensate landowners in sums that are many times larger than the `fair market value’ that has been offered. Further, the court rules only on the right-of-way itself. This means the landowner who has not signed an easement agreement has the right to seek further compensation or otherwise negotiate terms on other issues, such as access roads, herbicide use, notification of entry, etc.
Disclaimer: This information is for general purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Persons seeking to evaluate matters related to takings by eminent domain or other legal matters should consult a qualified attorney.
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