If you have driven around Michigan in recent years, you probably noticed an increase in roundabouts. That is no accident. The Michigan Department of Transportation has been working on replacing many traditional four-way intersections with roundabouts, which it notes can safely decrease traffic delays and congestion. Indeed, according to the Federal Highway Administration, roundabouts reduce injury and fatal crashes by 78-82% compared to traditional intersections. Several other studies have found similar benefits.
One problem remains: Roundabouts require circular plots of land, including rounded-out pieces of the corners of the pre-existing intersection often owned by private citizens. The owners of corner lots also often have businesses that rely on the existing traffic patterns and entrances and exits to their properties. One of the most common examples is gas stations, which rely heavily on the existing access to the abutting road. Even a small taking that obstructs one of two (or four) access points could have a catastrophic impact on the gas station.
If the construction of a roundabout impacts your property, we strongly encourage you to contact an eminent domain attorney. Importantly, in most cases, the government will reimburse you for the reasonable attorney fees and costs of seeking compensation for the taking, even if the taking is only temporary.
Our office has handled dozens of cases involving roundabouts, which often bring up several complicated issues. For instance, we consider the impact on access to adjacent businesses, safety, and grade control. The roundabout also may make the existing use of the property non-conforming or impact the future development of the property. Specialized attorneys can carefully review and evaluate how the government’s project affects the property’s future use. Failing to identify all of the consequences can lead to the loss of a substantial asset or even livelihood. Even the most sophisticated owners often fail to comprehend fully the effects of what they initially perceive as a minor taking.
In eminent domain cases, damages are referred to as “just compensation.” When the government takes only part of a landowner’s property for a roundabout project, it is called a “partial taking.” To establish the just compensation in a partial taking case, the owner must obtain an appraisal that values the property before and after the taking, bearing in mind all of the effects of the government’s project. The just compensation is then calculated as the difference between the before and after values.
If you think you may have a case, please feel free to email us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (248) 537-1155.