A Colquitt Co. jury awarded skating rink business owners $215,000 after the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) condemned a portion of the owners’ property. The jury found that GDOT substantially impaired access to the site when it removed the existing front driveway and replaced it at a location less than half of the minimum safe distance from the new intersection under GDOT regulations. Several witnesses testified to the unsafe design of the new driveway, which created dangerous conditions for customers and their children both internally within the site and on the state highway. Three years ago, Judge Tunison set aside GDOT’s previous attempt to condemn the same property citing grave safety concerns. GDOT nevertheless proceeded to recondemn the property without changing the unsafe design or following its own engineer’s recommendation to pay the owners to move the entrance and reconfigure the parking lot of the skate center to safely accommodate the dangerous conditions created by the taking. Evans and Rhodes, LLC put on evidence that the impairments substantially reduced the value of the property, which led to the jury award that was seventeen times GDOT’s estimate of “just and adequate” compensation.
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