Judge Rules County Took Too Much

A judge ruled that Sarpy County bit off more than it could chew when it took a farmer’s land through eminent domain.

The farmer sued and Channel 6 News has learned Sarpy County District Judge Max Kelch ordered the eminent domain action be set aside. The land is located near 84th and Platte View Road. The county forced the farmer to sell 37 acres to build a new sheriff’s office.

The landowner’s attorney Donald Pepperl argued eminent domain rules weren’t properly followed because the county took 10 acres it didn’t need right away for the project. He claims a required public hearing also wasn’t held.

The judge set aside the award of the appraisers and sent the eminent domain action back to county court where the county has 30 days to appeal.

The landowner’s attorney told Channel 6 reporter Mike McKnight that if the county doesn’t renegotiate the sale price, the land, with a building under construction, will go back to his client’s family trust. The farmer recently passed away.

Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov told Channel 6 News he’s confident the dispute can be settled without stopping construction of the sheriff’s facility and without tearing it down or turning the partially built facility over to the landowner’s trust.

Polikov said he’s disappointed there were mistakes made in the eminent domain process, which the county rarely does for a parcel of land.

The attorney for the family trust said the county paid about $650,000 for the 37 acres. Since construction of the sheriff’s headquarters building is well underway, the attorney believes the land is worth double that amount at $1.2 million or more.


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