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Attorney: Eminent domain on Main Street should be denied

Douglas Holdings, the North Little Rock firm which wants to hold onto its Main Street property located across from the former Waffle House Restaurant, contends it has good reason the North Little Rock School District should not be able to proceed with its taking through the power of eminent domain.

Douglas Holdings, earlier in October, filed a motion in the Pulaski County Circuit Court responding to the school district’s earlier court action seeking approval to obtain the property.

“Immediate possession should be denied for two reasons,” states Douglas Holdings’ motion. “First, defendant submits there is a right to a jury trial on the question of whether this is a necessary taking. What if a jury concludes this is not a necessary taking? Second, the NLRSD has a right to opt out of the taking if they think the jury award for compensation is too great. What if a jury awards two or three or four times what the NLRSD deposited and they decide to renege on the condemnation? How are defendant’s damages for a taking and an ‘unmaking’ calculated? Rent, restoring the property to what it was before, loss of value from damages, attorney’s fees?”

Douglas Holdings contends it has a right to seek a jury trial.

This jury trial right, we submit, is created by the high value the Arkansas Constitution puts on private property rights, and the statute governing school district takings,” according to the motion. “Defendant submits that the question of whether a taking is ‘necessary’ is a jury question because of the longstanding rule in Arkansas that the power of eminent domain is ‘strictly construed in favor of the landowner’,” states the motion.

Douglas Holdings contends it deserves its day in court.

“Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs he may receive in his person, property or character; he ought to obtain justice freely, and without purchase, completely, and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformably to the laws,” according to the motion.

Douglas Holdings also contends that NLRSD’s contention that it needs the land for additional parking space doesn’t make sense.

“But, all the land the NLRSD already owns in the vicinity would easily provide for several hundred parking spaces. They elected to designate defendant’s land as ‘excess’ as to her so they can take it for ‘visibility or safety,’ which seems completely unnecessary,” states Douglas Holdings. “What is the necessity of taking defendant’s 9,981 square feet for apparently an additional 18 parking spaces when all this is taken? There is none exhibit “visibility and security,” and defendant wants the NLRSD to prove it to the satisfaction of a jury.”

The response adds, “Since “visibility and safety” are the real issue, the NLRSD could more reasonably and cheaply take all or a portion of defendant’s fence if they want to be able to see into the vast new parking lot they have planned for the block and half of the block across 23rd Street. Moreover, the NLRSD added 113 parking spaces at 2300 Poplar, North Little Rock.”

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