BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s ruling favoring the state in an eminent domain case where a business contended it lost customers because the loss of land resulted in the loss of visibility of signs to passing motorists.
The Idaho Business Review in a story published Wednesday reports the court ruled June 29 that businesses in the state can’t seek damages from the state for a loss of visibility.
The owners of the former airport Holiday Inn in Boise sought $7.5 million in compensation following the Vista Avenue widening project that included a sound wall. The state offered about $40,000.
Justice Jim Jones wrote that the lower court was correct in its ruling, which read: “The existence of a ‘right of visibility’ has not yet been expressly recognized as a property right in Idaho. Neither the legislature nor any Idaho cases have expressly recognized a compensable property interest in ‘visibility’ or a right ‘to be seen’ from a roadway.”
Thomas J. Lloyd III, the attorney for the former Holiday Inn owners, known as HI Boise, said the ruling could harm businesses that rely on locations to attract customers.
“A company that invests in location and visibility in the present may, in the future, find itself with neither the visibility bargained for nor any recourse from the political entity that destroys that property benefit,” Lloyd said in a written statement.
HI Boise filed the lawsuit in 2009, and has since lost the hotel in foreclosure.
Idaho lawmakers have created statutes intended to protect landowners from eminent domains takings. One of those includes an Idaho business damages statute requiring the condemning entity to consider more than just the value of the land when determining a fair price.
Lloyd said the court ignored that statute.
“The Idaho business damages statute was specifically designed, by the plain language of the statute, to provide additional protections for business owners whose land is partially taken by eminent domain,” he said. “However, by the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case and in contrast to the apparent intentions of the Legislature, the scope of those available protections has now been limited.”