A group of landowners in Lexington, Missouri, have filed inverse condemnation claims against the federal government for the taking of their land abutting the 2.91 mile-long railroad corridor. The Wyandotte, Kansas City and Northwestern Railroad originally constructed the right-of-way in 1873. The right-of-way went through several changes and ownership and was eventually acquired by Union Pacific Railroad Company. The rail line has not been used since before 2009.
In February 2012, the City of Lexington filed a request for trail use over the right of way. On February 24, 2012, the Surface Transportation Board filed the Notice of Interim Trail Use which authorized Union Pacific to negotiate with the City. This federal order – the NITU – prevented landowners from regaining their state law rights to the land. And, instead, the federal order allowed two new easements to be imposed on the property – one for recreational trail use and another for future railroad use at any time in the future. This is the “federal taking” that took these landowners’ properties in February 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that this taking is constitutional, but that the government must pay the landowners “just compensation” pursuant to the Fifth Amendment.
The Missouri landowners filed their claims on September 4. The landowners now have a limited period to join any other neighboring landowners who wish to vindicate their constitution rights to just compensation for the government’s taking of their property.
For more information about this case, please contact Lindsay Brinton.