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Condemnation Powers-“Pedestrian Way”

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//June 24, 2024//

Condemnation Powers-“Pedestrian Way”

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//June 24, 2024//

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WI Court of Supreme Court

Case Name: Sojenhomer LLC v. Village of Egg Harbor

Case No.: 2021AP001589

Officials:

Focus: Condemnation Powers-“Pedestrian Way”

The Supreme Court reviewed the Village’s use of its condemnation powers to address safety issues at the intersection of County Highway G and State Highway 42. The Village sought to acquire 0.009 acres of property owned by Sojenhomer LLC to construct a sidewalk, arguing this was necessary for pedestrian and motorist safety.

Sojenhomer LLC contested this condemnation, citing Wisconsin Statutes §§ 32.015 and 61.34(3)(b), which prohibit the use of condemnation to establish or extend a “pedestrian way.” Sojenhomer argued that sidewalks fall under the definition of pedestrian ways, thus making the Village’s condemnation illegal.

The circuit court ruled in favor of the Village, distinguishing sidewalks from pedestrian ways as defined by Wis. Stat. § 346.02(8)(a). However, the Court of Appeals reversed this decision, agreeing with Sojenhomer that the term “pedestrian way” includes sidewalks.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that when read in context, the definition of “pedestrian way” does not include sidewalks. Thus, the statutes cited by Sojenhomer did not prohibit the Village from condemning the property for sidewalk construction. The Supreme Court’s decision allowed the Village to proceed with its plans to build the sidewalk to improve safety at the intersection

Decided 06/18/24

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