A short one today from the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
In Sojenhomer LLC v. Village of Egg Harbor, No. 2021AP1589 (Mar. 14, 2023), the court held that when a statute prohibits the use of eminent domain to acquire property for a “pedestrian way,” the village cannot take for a sidewalk.
Seems pretty obvious, no? Well, it took a 24-page opinion to work through it.
Here’s the statute. Sure enough it does say that “[p]roperty may not be acquired by condemnation to establish or extend a recreational trail; a bicycle way, as defined in s. 340.01 (5s); a bicycle lane, as defined in s. 340.01 (5e); or a pedestrian way, as defined in s. 346.02 (8) (a).” And clicking on that last link shows that pedestrian ways are defined as “a walk designated for the use of pedestrian travel.”
Sojenhorner naturally thought so, because when the village “sought to condemn Sojenhomer’s property to establish a sidewalk,” slip op. at 2, it objected.
We’re not going to spend a lot of time on the remaining 22 pages of opinion because if you want the statutory-intepretation details you can just go read it. Short story is that the village was expanding the highway, and part of that was a place where pedestrians could walk. On the side. Of the road. You know, a sidewalk.
In the end the court held that sidewalks are pedestrian ways, even if all pedestrian ways might not be sidewalks. (Someone Venn diagram this, please.)
Sojenhomer LLC v. Village of Egg Harbor, No. 2021AP1589 (Wis. Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2023)
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