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Court Revives Takings|Claim Over Power Plant

(CN) - A Massachusetts man can challenge a city's right to take his hydroelectric power plant as part of an urban renewal plan, the state appeals court ruled.

James Lichoulas Jr. received a permit in 1986 to run the Appleton Trust Project, a hydroelectric power plant in Lowell, Mass.

After the plant ceased operation, the city notified Lichoulas in 2004 that it considered his power plant to be abandoned. Two years later, the city took the property by eminent domain.

Lichoulas unsuccessfully challenged the ruling in federal court under the Federal Power Act. After he lost his federal appeal in 2009, he sought the return of the property in the Land Court, which ruled that it lacked jurisdiction because Lichoulas has already tried his only option: a Federal Power Act lawsuit.

But the Massachusetts Appeals Court overturned the decision, ruling that Lichoulas had the right to challenge the taking of his property.

"It is well-established in this commonwealth that one whose private property has been taken by an exercise of the power of eminent domain may bring an action in equity to challenge the validity of that taking," Justice Peter Rubin wrote.

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