A Pulaski County Circuit Court jury last month awarded $2.59 million to Trinity Assembly of God for the value of church property taken for a road construction project in west Little Rock.
The Arkansas Highway Commission wanted to pay the church $1.5 million for the land, which comprised about nine parking spaces, that it needed for its construction project on Highway 10 (aka Cantrell Road), according to court filings in the eminent domain case in Pulaski County Circuit Court.
“There was a difference of opinion as to how much the damage to the value of the church’s property was, and the effect of the highway department’s project on the value of the church’s property,” said the church’s attorney, Michael N. Shannon of Quattlebaum Grooms & Tull PLLC of Little Rock. He said the Arkansas Department of Transportation put a road through the church’s property “and essentially bisected it.”
Access to the church “changed significantly,” making it less safe, he said. Trinity also lost the area in the front of its building, a space that was used for gatherings. An appraiser said the church’s property value fell by 25% as a result of the roadwork, which left the church with no room to expand, leaving it landlocked.
ArDot intends to improve the flow of highway traffic between Pleasant Valley Drive and Pleasant Ridge Road with a mixture of widening and reconfigured roadway.
After the two-day trial, the jury returned with its verdict in about an hour.
“We were just just happy that the jury recognized that our theory of the case was valid,” Shannon said.
Rita S. Looney, chief legal counsel for the state Highway Commission, declined to comment on Wednesday because the judgment had not been entered and post-trial motions had not been filed.