A dozen residents who would lose their homes to the Foxconn Technology Group project have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Village of Mount Pleasant, Wis., and its president.
The lawsuit claims Mount Pleasant's exercise of eminent domain to take their homes is unconstitutional because it is for a private benefit, for a project exempt from many environmental protections and because the plaintiffs would be paid far less than similarly situated neighbors whose properties are being purchased by the village.
As part of its development agreement with Foxconn, Mount Pleasant agreed to acquire about 2,900 acres, some directly for Foxconn and some for possible future expansion. Some also was for planned road and utility expansions, traditional public goals of the power of eminent domain.
But the plaintiffs say the road and utility projects would never have been considered but for Foxconn, and that the condemnations and resulting road and utility work specifically benefit Foxconn, making it a de facto private purpose.
They also say that even though they will be displaced if the village prevails, they all plan to remain in the immediate area and will be affected by the giant Foxconn facility's impact on the local environment. The suit claims the fast-track nature of the Foxconn project approval deprived them of a "reasoned and structured decision-making process" otherwise required by state environmental laws.
The plaintiffs live on County Line Road, Frontage Road and Highway H, and collectively own about 18 acres. According to their suit, owners of similar parcels within the 2,900 acres, but not along roads targeted for improvements, are getting purchase offers from the village that would pay from seven to 10 times more than the plaintiffs expect under condemnation.
"This classification has a direct bearing on the fundamental interest in private property due process and equal protection of the laws," the suit states. "The Defendants have no rational basis to justify the creation of these classes. The Defendants' creation of these classes is irrational and wholly arbitrary."
The plaintiffs are represented by a Madison law firm that specializes in eminent domain cases. The suit says the plan violates their rights to private property, equal protection and due process, and seeks an injunction blocking that plan.
Alan Marcuvitz, an attorney for the Village of Mount Pleasant, said, "We don't believe there is any merit to this lawsuit, and we will provide an appropriate response through the legal system."
He said the village will continue acquiring property for the Foxconn project.
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