Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Idaho Falls declines to file motion on North Loop eminent domain decision

The city of Idaho Falls has no plans to abandon its North Loop electrical expansion project, but it will not be using powers of eminent domain to acquire land and rights of way.

Mayor Rebecca Casper announced late Monday that she and the City Council had decided not to file a motion for reconsideration with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 31, the court released a decision authored by Judge N. Randy Smith saying municipalities in Idaho do not have the power to exercise eminent domain outside city limits for the purpose of constructing electric transmission lines.

That ruling came after Idaho Falls appealed a decision by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in a case involving a group of landowners called the Alliance for Property Rights. Although Idaho Falls has not sought to acquire land outside city limits using eminent domain, the Alliance filed suit against the city seeking a decision that would limit the city's powers.

Eminent domain is a power given to governments that allows them to acquire property for a public purpose at a fair price. The deadline for filing the motion to reconsider was today.

“I believe that we have concluded appropriate legal action with regards to the use of eminent domain to obtain property outside city limits for the North Loop project. We respect the court’s ruling and look forward to continuing to negotiate with property owners,” Casper said in a news release.

Idaho Falls has been planning the North Loop expansion for more than 40 years, to meet the City’s continually growing electric needs and customers' expectation of reliable service.

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