OKLAHOMA CITY - The first argument between the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and a landowner whose property it took to build the Eastern Oklahoma County turnpike on went to trial over the value of the property Tuesday.
The EOC will connect I-40 to the Turner Turnpike, carving a path through a number of private homes. The OTA has the authority to take ownership of any property it needs as long as it's for the good of the community but the former landowner must be paid fairly for what they're losing.
Darrell and Nancy Brewer first learned in 2017 that the OTA would acquire their property in Harrah, a 1.5 acre piece of land that housed a daycare.
"We've had it 28 years and it had a good income for us," Mr. Brewer said. "We'd like to keep it or be compensated for the problem."
But the OTA offered $250,000 based on a third-party appraiser, considerably less than the $410,000 value the Brewers' appraiser estimated.
"They are jacking people around, I'm telling you," Mr. Brewer said. "Two-hundred and fifty is way low, I mean the land is worth that. It's got a 5,000-square-foot building which is worth $100 a square foot. There`s $500,000 right there, you know?"
Representatives for the OTA declined to comment on the trial, but in court, the OTA's third-party appraiser argued that compared to other similar properties in the area that are also used as daycares, $250,000 is more than a fair price.
So far, the OTA has grabbed 375 parcels for the project, 28 of which are still in negotiation. Those may still be settled out of court.
Mr. Brewer said he understands why the state must take the land, he just doesn't feel it's being handled fairly.
"They want to skimp on real estate people," he said. "I mean, I reiterate that but it's just, they shouldn't do that."
The trial is expected to wrap up Wednesday.