MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 19, 2013

City faces suit by property owner

Couple alleges wrongful taking in York Street project

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Property owners who have land along South York Street filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging a taking without just compensation.

Paul and Patricia Adair allege they never were contacted before or after the city “began acquiring properties ... for the York Street widening project.” The Adairs allege the city “took physical possession of a portion” of their property when construction work began.

City Attorney Roy Tucker said the map used by the city during the acquisition phase of the widening project shows the couple’s land lies behind other properties alongside the southeast Muskogee arterial street. A map obtained after the lawsuit was filed shows the Adairs’ property includes a small sliver of land that abuts York Street.

“The map we got, based on the legal description, shows they own the lot behind (streetfront properties), but there is just a little bitty sliver that extends to the street,” Tucker said, noting the city has seen the petition but has yet to be served with a summons. “We are trying to figure out what happened. If a mistake was made, we have to first figure out who’s at fault.”

Tucker said tracking down the mistake could take some time because of the number of entities involved. The map used to identify acquisitions related to the widening project was assembled by an outside consultant based upon information provided by two other sources.

The Adairs, in the petition filed Wednesday by a Vinita-based law firm on their behalf, alleges construction activities that took place on their land included excavation work. Construction workers allegedly parked vehicles and stored equipment on their land.

“As part of its project, the city also entered upon the Adair property and cut, removed and clogged the water line and other service lines which served the Adairs’ home,” Bob Rush wrote in the petition. “The actions by the city constitute a physical invasion ... and substantially interfered with the Adairs’ use and enjoyment of” their property.

The Adairs allege damages in excess of $10,000 and have asked the court to appoint three commissioners to appraise the value of the property they believe was taken or damaged.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.