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Newton man wins eminent domain case

By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Staff / June 25, 2010

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A Middlesex County jury has ruled in favor of a former Newton landowner, forcing the city to pay him an additional $420,000 in an eminent domain dispute dating back to 2007, a lawyer for the plaintiff said.

Under Wednesday’s decision, the city of Newton must pay a total of $2.72 million to Patrick Hannon, which the jury saw as the fair value of a 1-acre parcel on Rogers Street, near Crystal Lake in the Newton Highlands neighborhood. Newton had already paid Hannon $2.3 million in the original seizure under eminent domain in 2007.

“We are very pleased that the jury returned a verdict that was just and reasonable,’’ said Joel Faller, a lawyer with The McLaughlin Brothers PC, a Boston law firm that specializes in eminent domain cases. “It was clear to us from the beginning that the City of Newton had greatly undervalued the parcel.’’

A spokesman for the city did not return calls seeking comment.

Hannon purchased the property in 2002 for $3 million, but the house was badly damaged in a fire before he could move in, Faller said.

Hannon, who grew up with modest means and made his fortune with a successful solid waste disposal firm, tried to rebuild, but was delayed by the city’s Historical Commission.

Faller said the city instituted a one-year demolition delay and seized the land a few months after the delay expired. The city seized the property to increase the public land on Crystal Lake, a popular swimming spot in the city. The lawsuit called into question the amount the city was willing to pay for the land.

“Mr. Hannon is very pleased with the result,’’ Faller said in a phone interview last night. “We both feel that the jury paid close attention to the evidence and fairly valued the property.’’

John M. Guilfoil can be reached at jguilfoil@globe.com.

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