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Court decision: Lennox to pay over half million in eminent domain case

A battle to gain the old football field property by eminent domain came at a high cost for the City of Lennox. In the verdict announced on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 the City of Lennox has been instructed to pay $505,285 in compensation to the defendant, Lennox Properties, LLC for the property in question.

In October of 2014 the Lennox City Council began action to take the old football field property by eminent domain; the property is located south of the softball diamonds at Westerman Park.

The property, originally owned by Lennox School District 41-4, was sold to Lennox Properties, LLC, a South Dakota Limited Liability Company owned in part by Gene Kuper, a Lennox native. The Lennox School District sold the property, along with the old administration building (201 S. Elm St.) to Lennox Properties, LLC, the only bidder on the two properties for the amount of $142,000.

Kuper offered to sell the old football field property to the City of Lennox for $140,000. Unable to come to an agreement, the City proceeded with legal action.

Kuper said, “There’s not really a great winner here. The taxpayers are being punished for poor leadership. It’s unacceptable; the entire council is responsible. I’m a taxpayer in this town too, owning several properties and businesses. I’ve been disappointed in the whole situation from the beginning.”

The court ordered amount for the property does not include the lawyer fees and court costs which will be on top of the compensation to be paid to the defendant.

When asked for comment, Lennox Finance Officer Jerry Jones said, “Until we get direction from our attorney there will be no comment.”

Mayor Orville Wiebers also declined comment until speaking with the City’s legal team. He said, “Until we decide what our next course of action is, I have no comment.”

Jones said the issue is on the agenda for the next City Council meeting to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at Lennox City Hall. The matter will be addressed in executive session.

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