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Acquisition by Condemnation

WI Court of Appeals – District III

Case Name: Sojenhomer LLC v. Village of Egg Harbor [Recommended for Publication]

Case No.: 2021AP001589

Officials: Hruz, J.

Focus: Acquisition by Condemnation

Sojenhomer LLC, appeals an order granting the Village of Egg Harbor’s motion for summary judgment on Sojenhomer’s claim pursuant to WIS. STAT. § 32.015 (2021-22). That statute provides that property may not be acquired by condemnation to establish, among other things, a “pedestrian way.” See id. WISCONSIN STAT. § 61.34(3)(b) similarly states that a village board may not use the power of condemnation to acquire property for the purpose of establishing a “pedestrian way.” The Village sought to condemn part of Sojenhomer’s property to establish a sidewalk, and the circuit court concluded, as a matter of law, that WIS. STAT. § 32.015 did not prohibit the Village from doing so. In reaching that conclusion, the court interpreted the definition of “pedestrian way” in WIS. STAT. § 346.02(8)(a), and it determined that a “pedestrian way” is distinct from a “sidewalk” because the two terms are used together in both § 346.02(8)(a) and (b); thus, the terms must be interpreted to have different meanings in order to avoid surplusage.

The appeals court ruled that the circuit court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of the Village. The undisputed facts demonstrate that the Village used the power of condemnation to acquire Sojenhomer’s property to establish a pedestrian way in violation of WIS. STAT. §§ 32.015 and 61.34(3)(b). Summary judgment should have therefore been granted in Sojenhomer’s favor.

Reversed and remanded.

Decided 03/14/23

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