eminent domain

Milford Council limits comments on eminent domain case

Katie KazimirGovernment, Headlines


Annette Billings, center, with glasses, thanks well-wishers supporting her fight to keep her property after the Milford City Council condemned it so they could use it in a park.

Larry Passwaters chided the Milford City Council Monday night over its decision to declare eminent domain over 8 acres of property owned by a chicken-raising widow so it could create a park.

“If this was a Hallmark movie, you’d be the bad guys,” Larry Passwaters scolded council members.

His comment was met with cries of support from the crowd of more than 100, which filled the chamber and spilled out into the lobby.

It’s the second time in three weeks that a council meeting has overflowed with public questioning.

On Jan. 22, members of the public packed the chamber, lobby and a basement room set up for overflow in a four-hour meeting over a proposed tiny house village for the homeless.

This time, the public was allotted the council’s usual total of 15 minutes for comment, but it was a startling difference from the homeless hearing.

The council plans to pay Annette Billings $20,000 for the property, after voting to condemn it, has been the talk of the town for the last week.

She attended the meeting.

“This was unbelievable,” Billings said about the outpouring of public support.

Milford wants to install bike and pedestrian paths in a park planned near South Rehoboth Boulevard to create a citywide bike and pedestrian path.

Some of Billings’ supporters waved signs printed with slogans that said, “I stand with Annette and her wetlands;’ “This is land is your land. This is land is my land. Unless Milford Council wants to steal it from you;” and “What would WWJD? I have questions.”

The crowd listened intently, often cheering in agreement with those speaking against the council’s decision.


Sen. Dave Wilson, right, tells the Milford Council that the property it condemned to use in a park is not even in city limits.

Sen. Dave Wilson, R-Lincoln, took the stand and questioned why Milford was going after property that is not in its city limits.

Wilson said the land is considered to be in the county’s jurisdiction.

“I have a heartburn thinking about what is going on tonight,” Wilson said.

Council’s eminent domain decision also has Wilson questioning how much future support he will show Milford as a legislator.

“I’m going to have to take serious consideration when I talk to my colleagues about the City of Milford,” he said.

“My concern is that each one of you council members do what is right for your ward,” Wilson continued.

Wilson told the council they should focus on what the town needs, not what the council wants.


The overflow crowd in Milford City Hall’s lobby listens intently to commenting in the chamber.

Sue Lindale, an avid road biker who rides close to 30 miles a day, said the bike path proposed on Billings’ land is not a need.

“Us bikers don’t even want it,” Lindale said, adding that she represents a Milford cycling group that doesn’t want the town’s decision to reflect poorly on them.

Lucius Webb said the lack of respect and dignity shown Billings puts the town in an unsavory light.

“What landowner will now want to be annexed into your governing body,” he asked the council. 

“We can’t trust Milford,” Webb said.

Again, the crowd clapped and erupted into cheers of agreement.

The council did not respond to the comments.

After public comment, the crowd dissipated, leaving a much smaller crowd for the rest of the meeting. 

It was then business as usual with the city’s different departments reporting updates to council.

City Clerk Terri Hudson told council Deputy Clerk Katrina Wilson will begin taking over duties, including reporting to council, as she transitions into retirement later this year. 

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