Foxconn land dispute: Property owners are furious

A group of Wisconsin property owners are suing in federal court over local government efforts to take their land as p...

Posted: Jan 12, 2018 2:33 PM
Updated: Jan 12, 2018 2:33 PM

A group of Wisconsin property owners are suing in federal court over local government efforts to take their land as part of the incentive package for a Foxconn factory there.

The 12 property owners hold 18 acres of land that the Village of Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, is seeking to take via the power of eminent domain.

The Village of Mount Pleasant has agreed to buy the land where Foxconn will build its factory and give it to the company for free as part of a package of state and local government incentives valued at more than $4 billion. The steep cost of the incentive package has sparked criticism in Wisconsin, and is expected to be a major issue in this year's gubernatorial race.

Governments have broad powers to take land for public improvements such as roads or government buildings, though they must pay a fair market value for the property. The suit argues that the attempt to take the land is illegal because most of it will be given to Foxconn, not used by the town. And it argues that even the portion of the land that is used for new roads doesn't qualify for eminent domain because the roads are only being built for Foxconn's benefit.

Related: Foxconn got a really good deal from Wisconsin. And it's getting better

Foxconn, a Taiwan-based contract electronics manufacturer, is best known as the company that builds things like iPhones at massive factories in China, where employees not only work but live. It's expected to spend at least $9 billion to build the plant, which will employ between 3,000 to 13,000 workers to build flat screens.

The suit charges that the property owners are getting far less than other property owners who have already sold their land to the town for the factory. The attorney filing the suit, Erik Olsen, said he's not sure if he and his clients will be able to stop the factory from being built. But he argues that the government should have to follow the laws about property purchases, which dictate that all the owners must be treated equally when it comes to pricing.

"My clients believe, and I believe too, that they should be treated justly," he said. "Is it really OK to pay some people multiples of their land value, and other people not? The government has broad powers but not totally arbitrary powers."

The attorney for the village, which is a defendant in the suit, did not respond to a request for comment.

The land is very rural -- each parcel is at least 1.5 acres. The suit says the current property owners enjoy their "privacy and quiet pleasures or rural life in their homes," including such activities as snowmobiling, boating, swimming, fishing, hunting, "and the aesthetic enjoyment of things as simple as sunsets."

All of them say that if they're forced to move they intend to stay in the area.

Huntsville/Madison
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 41°
Muscle Shoals
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 42°
Huntsville/Madison
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 41°
Decatur
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 42°
Fort Payne
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 40°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 701847

Reported Deaths: 8777
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby779711168
Davidson72385688
Knox39701432
Hamilton35466337
Rutherford33860294
Unassigned23587134
Williamson21906144
Sumner18644232
Out of TN1615282
Montgomery14979149
Wilson14728164
Sullivan12893218
Blount12267132
Washington12102203
Maury11179128
Bradley1108895
Sevier10704120
Putnam10116151
Madison9273183
Robertson782687
Hamblen7172117
Anderson6947114
Greene6719115
Tipton632969
Gibson5733114
Coffee573282
Dickson552682
Cumberland550576
Bedford540391
Roane530081
Lawrence518869
Carter5171115
McMinn516774
Warren504454
Loudon503550
Jefferson490178
Dyer483386
Monroe467063
Hawkins455272
Franklin420065
Fayette408751
Obion404582
Rhea388457
Lincoln385546
Marshall353338
Cocke352758
Cheatham347331
Weakley344248
Henderson336559
Campbell334940
Giles330574
Carroll315860
White315144
Hardeman314054
Hardin304250
Lauderdale296933
Macon293251
Wayne267424
Henry266958
Overton258846
DeKalb246342
McNairy245442
Haywood243747
Smith234230
Marion233932
Trousdale230315
Scott228832
Hickman227835
Claiborne224932
Fentress215734
Grainger214339
Johnson204634
Morgan193916
Crockett182438
Chester177439
Bledsoe177011
Unicoi169545
Cannon160320
Lake157821
Decatur148628
Polk147817
Union143225
Grundy142622
Sequatchie140319
Humphreys136717
Benton133435
Lewis130121
Meigs117616
Stewart109620
Jackson105723
Perry95825
Clay95426
Houston94624
Moore8299
Pickett69020
Van Buren6737
Hancock4177

Community Events