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City sued by real estate company for destroying property

A real estate company is suing the City of Morgantown for destroying some of its property while installing a new drainage system in an alleyway between Beverly and Grant avenues.
The suit was filed by Roman Realty LLC and requests the court order Morgantown to start eminent domain proceedings to determine the value of the damages and then compensate the company for them. It also seeks attorney’s fees.
Morgantown is aware of the lawsuit but does not wish to comment on pending litigation, Communications Director Andrew Stacy said.
The suit claims the city never got any kind of permission to enter the property, took about 1,000 square feet of property without paying, left parts of the property dangerous and unusable and diminished the value of the property.
According to the suit:
The construction project was done in phase three as part of the Sunnyside TIF district project. The property damaged in the suit is at 512 and 516 and sits below Alley D.
Before the work, the rear of the property was gradually sloped, heavily wooded with mature walnut trees and room for gardening and recreation. Alley D was gravel and grass.
Morgantown did not get an easement, access rights or rights-of-way from Roman Realty before it started construction.
While installing the drainage, about 11 trees were removed and about 1,000 square feet excavated and used as a dump site without permission.
Eight trees that weren’t removed are damaged, with soil, gravel and debris against each that will eventually cause them to fall towards the residential buildings on the property. They will need to be removed.
The excavation, dumping, removal of trees and their root systems on the property has left the slope hazardously steep and unusable.
The property also has seen a “massive increase” of surface water because Alley D was paved and there is less erosion protection.
In September 2019, Roman Realty sent then City Manager Paul Brake a letter stating it planned to file inverse condemnation action because the city took the property without going through normal methods and took private property without just compensation.
The letter was ignored and later that month, more fill material was dumped and a filter was installed to try to redirect the surface water.
The property needs a retaining wall of at least 60 feet with proper drainage to support the slope and redirect the water.
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