DOUGLAS D. HICKMAN and SUSAN A. HICKMAN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
RINGGOLD COUNTY, IOWA, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Ringgold County, John D.
appeal the district court's denial of injunctive relief
regarding their challenge to a county's condemnation of a
portion of their land. AFFIRMED.
W. Goodwin of Goodwin Law Office, P.C., Ames, for appellants.
J. Hagemeier of Williams & Hagemeier, P.L.C., Des Moines,
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and
Mullins, JJ. Lloyd, S.J., takes no part.
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
County served a notice of intent to condemn 0.7 acres of land
owned by Douglas and Susan Hickman. The Hickmans were
informed their land would "need to be acquired by
Ringgold County for the construction of a new road for the
future location of a new concrete batch plant."
Hickmans filed a lawsuit challenging the county's
proposed action. See Iowa Code § 6A.24(1)
(2018) ("An owner of property described in an
application for condemnation may bring an action challenging
the exercise of eminent domain authority or the condemnation
proceedings."). They alleged in part that the
condemnation was "in violation of [Iowa Code] section
6A.22(2)(a)(3)" because it was "solely for the
purpose of facilitating the incidental private use of the
Central Iowa Ready-Mix cement plant."
a bench trial, the district court dismissed the Hickmans'
petition. The Hickmans moved for enlarged findings and
conclusions. The court denied the motion. This appeal
Code section 6A.22(1) states: "In addition to the
limitations in section 6A.21');">6A.21 [relating to condemnation of
agricultural land], the authority of an acquiring agency to
condemn any private property through eminent domain may only
be exercised for a public purpose, public use, or public
improvement." The provision provides several definitions
of "public use," "public purpose," or
"public improvement," including the following:
"Private use that is incidental to the public use of the
property, provided that no property shall be condemned solely
for the purpose of facilitating such incidental private
use." Iowa Code § 6A.22(2)(a)(3). In addition,
section 6A.22(2)(b) states:
Except as specifically included in the definition in
paragraph "a", "public use" or
"public purpose" or "public improvement"
does not mean economic development activities resulting in
increased tax revenues, increased employment opportunities,
privately owned or privately funded housing and residential
development, privately owned or privately funded commercial
or industrial development, or the lease of publicly owned
property to a private party.
argued in the district court, the Hickmans contend the
county's decision "to widen and improve the dirt
road" south of their property "is solely for the
purpose of facilitating" the construction and use of
"a temporary concrete batch plant" southeast of
their property. They assert Iowa Code section 6A.22
"restricts and prohibits the authority of a county to
condemn private land to facilitate private use and/or for
economic development." They agree with the County that
our review is for errors of law.
6A.22(2)(b) categorically excludes "economic development
activities" from the definition of public purpose.
Despite this express prohibition, the County cited the need
for economic development of the area as a basis for
exercising its power of eminent domain. Specifically, a
Ringgold County supervisor testified:
As a supervisor, and I'll speak for all three of us, we
think it's critical for this county to further develop
the economics of the county. We are a shrinking county. We
have lost businesses. We are losing people all the time, so
it is-we have ...