Archive for Friday, September 14, 2001

Court hears landowner’s case about property near Speedway

September 14, 2001


— For Robert Creason, the 31.5 acres he owned in Wyandotte County were as close to Nirvana as he could get.

His property had a grove of trees, a spring-fed lake and a huge shop where he could restore old cars and trucks. He even had his own natural gas well to power his home and shop.

Three years ago, local officials had his property condemned to make way for the Kansas Speedway, the $250 million NASCAR track with seating for 75,000 spectators. Creason was told his property was worth $370,000.

He disagreed and initiated a legal battle that is now before the Kansas Supreme Court.

His attorney sought to convince justices Thursday that he should get another chance to persuade a jury that his property is worth $640,000, in large part because of the natural gas well. The justices could rule as early as Oct. 19.

Creason now lives in Overland Park and hopes to replicate his paradise, perhaps in Leavenworth County.

"I spent my life establishing it," Creason said after watching the arguments on his case.

The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City argues that Creason and his attorney are asking the Supreme Court to go against long-standing legal doctrines and Kansas law that deal with a government's power to take land for what it views as the public good.

Furthermore, said Timothy Orrick, a Lenexa attorney representing the Unified Government, Creason didn't produce a true fair market value for his well, or his property as a whole.

"The evidence was simply too speculative and too conjectural to be credible," Orrick told the court.

The Unified Government bought 180 properties to get the 1,000 acres for the speedway and associated business development. Orrick estimated that about 80 percent of the owners agreed on a price after negotiations.

Creason wasn't one of them. The Unified Government went to court to get his property condemned, meaning three county residents would look at the property and assign the value he was to be paid.

The natural gas well was a key issue when Creason objected to the value placed on his property, forcing a trial in Wyandotte County District Court.

The well had been on his property for 18 years, and he was preparing to start selling gas commercially.

Creason said he hadn't before because he spent enough time away from his property that he couldn't monitor the well.

He planned to retire he's now 75 and use gas sales to provide retirement income, he said.

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