Today, you hear stories about people who are forced to move out of their homes over eminent domain issues. It has been a plague that has been blanketing this country for decades, and now it is getting to the point where anyone can easily become a victim of it. In the past you could at least be assured that you would get "just compensation" for your home if it was taken, but now the greed of some corporations is out of control and you are lucky to get pennies for your home or business. I know this because I am one of those victims.
It all started on my birthday February 4 2004. I received a letter from our local utility company called APS about acquiring my property to run a 299kv transmission line and tower. These are the really big ones you see out in the middle of nowhere. They stand at a lofty 150' tall and carry enough power to light up a small city. We had agreed to meet the following week to discuss numbers on the value of the property, and at their request had the property appraised. It was valued at $123,000.
We were not opposed to the idea of giving up the house so long as we received fair compensation, and were looking for nothing more than the value of the property. We met with APS's representatives Bob Bott, and Michael Bouche to discuss what we were looking for. Their offer at that time was a measly $70,000. That number came from what they assessed the value of the lot being vacant, and the cost of materials in the home. I guess labor, permits, blood sweat and tears, etc are free these days. We of course immediately turned them down, and were told we would receive another better offer the following week.
After a long week had passed we talked with APS's reps Bob, and Michael. They said the offer this time had been mailed, and we would "be very happy with it". When the letter came we were shocked at the amount, it was for $35,000, half of their original price! This is when things became ugly.
We were threatened to have condemnation papers filed if we did not take the offer, and could possibly end up with much less. They said the number came from a crack team of their best manipulators uh urr I mean calculators, and said that is the value lost for 60% of the property (portion of the property they are requesting) losing 75% of its value. That 60% by the way includes the entire home which is not allowed to be where the power lines are going so it would either have to be destroyed or moved. At least we would still be left with a sliver of grime real estate that is almost entirely in the fall zone of the tower. A fall zone is basically any area that the tower could hit if it were to fail and collapse. You are not allowed to put up structures in fall zones because of this hazard.
Weíve been having many problems in our battle with this company, especially since APS is controlled by another company called Pinnacle West Corp. They are one of the biggest businesses in the state of Arizona and last year were valued at having over $9,000,000,000.00 in assets, yes thatís right $9 billion. Now thereís me, your average guy trying to eek out a living and support his family. My assets as of last year, $123,000. They want take away everything that I have been working so hard for in my life just so they can have a better bottom line. I wonder how they would feel if someone forced them to sell their company for 28% of its value.
Well this is my story, or at least part of it, and I need help. Feel free to email me, or APS's public relations rep. at firstname.lastname@example.org. I need all the help I can get so if you have any contacts, past cases similar to this etc, please send it my way. My email is email@example.com and my name is Ian Horvath. Thank you for taking the time to read all this.