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Keeping Current Property

Keeping Current—Property offers a look at selected recent cases, literature, and legislation. The editors of Probate & Property welcome suggestions and contributions from readers.

CASES

CONDEMNATION: Leasehold is property interest subject to condemnation, giving rise to unconditional statutory right to intervene. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (Agency) planned to construct highway improvements on property leased from Lake Champlain Transportation Company (LCT) to Vallee. The lease agreement gave Vallee “an easement for vehicular access … through the connecting driveway” that ran through LCT’s property and a parcel owned by Vallee. LCT retained the right, under the lease, to use the driveway and to grant third parties a similar right. After the Agency acquired the property from LCT by negotiation, it then filed a complaint to acquire other parcels in the same area. Because it had already reached an agreement with LCT, it did not name LCT or Vallee as defendants in the complaint. Vallee moved to intervene because the construction would occur in the driveway area, asserting an interest in the property at stake in the condemnation. The trial court denied the request to intervene, finding that the statute gives “property owners” the right to intervene, but Vallee was not a property owner. The supreme court reversed. It read “property owner” in the condemnation statute, 19 Vt. Stat. Ann. §501(3), to mean one with a legal interest of record in the property proposed to be taken. A leasehold is such an interest in the property and therefore covered by the condemnation statute. Agency of Transp. v. Timberlake Assoc., 239 A.3d 253 (Vt. 2020).

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