Lawsuit challenging Foxconn land acquisition dismissed

Vote on redevelopment plan set for next week

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:12 pm

A lawsuit challenging the village of Mount Pleasant’s process for acquiring land needed for Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion LCD manufacturing campus was dismissed Thursday.

The case, filed in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Wisconsin, was brought by the owners of seven properties with a combined 18 acres in the Foxconn project area. The group claimed the village violated their rights to equal protection, private property and due process.

To support those claims, the group pointed out some property owners received offers of $50,000 per acre for vacant land while they were offered 140 percent of the fair market value of their homes. They also alleged the village plans to use a “landlocking scheme” to blight their properties and take them using eminent domain.

The village moved to dismiss the case and U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman ruled the group’s claims were either not viable or not ready for litigation.

“Plaintiffs do not dispute that defendant have not actually implemented their alleged plans – by, for example, commencing condemnation proceedings against plaintiffs’ properties—so plaintiffs cannot have pursued, much less exhausted their available state remedies for challenging those takings,” Adelman wrote in dismissing claims related to the blighting of their properties as not ripe for adjudication.

Adelman also dismissed equal protection claims related to the different offers received by home owners and those with large tracts of vacant or agricultural land. He determined the group hadn’t offered any evidence to support its claim the two groups were “similarly situated.”

“The only meaningful comparative information about plaintiffs and their neighbors comes from a map of the planned development area showing their respective properties that plaintiffs attached to their complaint,” Adelman wrote. “The map shows that plaintiffs’ properties are small and peripheral, while the ‘option parcels’ are generally much larger and closer to the initial building site. If anything, this suggests a lack of similarity between plaintiffs and their neighbors.”

Alan Marcuvitz, an attorney for the village, issued a statement that said the village would “continue its efforts to acquire all property needed for the Foxconn development through voluntary agreements with property owners.”

“While the lawsuit has had no impact on the progress of the development, we are pleased to have this matter resolved,” Marcuvitz said.

The Mount Pleasant Community Development Authority is expected to vote next week on a redevelopment plan for the Foxconn project area. While the plan would not trigger any property acquisition or designate individual properties as blighted, it would allow the CDA to use eminent domain to acquire properties in the future.

An attorney representing the property owners did not immediately respond to requests for comment, including whether they would bring litigation again if the village moves to acquire their land.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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