States and municipalities have the authority to use and take title to parcels of private property in Rhode Island using eminent domain powers. For a private property taking to be valid, the state or municipality must follow certain procedures, most importantly offering just compensation to the original property owner. The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently heard a case of the state being sued by a property owner, who alleged that the state constructed a bicycle path across their property without following the proper procedures or offering fair compensation for the land.
The plaintiff from the recently decided case is the owner of a coastal parcel of property in Providence. In 2015, the state of Rhode Island started proceedings to purchase a strip of the plaintiff’s land to construct a bike pathway. The city erroneously believed that the strip of land was owned by the city of Providence, and pursued condemnation proceedings against the city to gain title to the property.
Once construction started on the bike pathway, the plaintiff attempted to assert his property rights over the strip of land, contacting the state and demanding that construction cease. Eventually, the plaintiff filed an action in state court to assert his property rights over the strip of property and seek damages for the taking. According to the analysis from the appellate opinion, the trial court found that the strip of land did not belong to the city of Providence, and that the state’s 2015 condemnation of the property was invalid. As a result of this ruling, the plaintiff will be compensated for the value of the land that was taken by the state, as well as the loss of value that he may suffer from adjacent properties.