DOING THE LIMBO
The Charles and Donna Calhoun Story.
In 1974, Charles and Donna Calhoun purchased a 51-acre parcel of undeveloped land near the
city of Durant, Oklahoma. But in 1979 city officials announced they intended to condemn all
of the Calhouns' property to make way for a reservoir the city wanted to build. The Calhouns'
land was rendered virtually worthless since it was just a matter of time before it would be at
the bottom of a lake. The city refused to compensate the Calhouns for their loss. After ten
years of waiting for the city to determine the final disposition of their land, the couple
finally filed a lawsuit in 1989 demanding the city compensate them for the years their land
was held in limbo by its condemnation ruling.
In 1990, Durant officials finally ordered the formal condemnation of 23 acres of the property,
leaving the other 28 acres for the Calhouns. That year, an Oklahoma trial court ruled that the
city's condemnation ruling had been a "taking" and awarded the Calhouns compensation for a
permanent taking of the 23 acres as well as compensation for the temporary taking of the other
28 acres. Later, a state appellate court struck down the trial court decision claiming
that "there was no physical invasion of the Calhouns' land, and there was no regulatory
action taken by the city."
The Calhouns are now appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that
government cannot be allowed to subvert constitutionally-protected property rights when
exercising its power of condemnation.
Source: Pacific Legal Foundation
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