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Former Windham landowner awarded $13.5m in eminent domain case

CONCORD — A former Windham landowner offered $3.97 million for his land by the state was awarded $13.5 million by a Rockingham County Superior Court jury for a parcel taken by eminent domain for the Interstate 93 expansion project.

Today, the state Department of Transportation will ask the Executive Council to approve an additional $1.2 million in interest to be paid to landowner John Wolters.

Wolters owned three parcels totaling 62 acres near Exit 3 between the northbound and southbound lanes of the turnpike. He had at one time proposed a lifestyle mall on the land, with stores or retail outlets centered around an outdoor park. The plans were never presented to the town.

In 2003, Wolters had his engineers propose alternative plans for the I-93 expansion that included leaving the Exit 3 off and on ramps in their former locations and his land clear for future development. The state found the proposal unacceptable.

Wolters’ lawyer, Michael Connolly of Nixon Peabody, contended in court papers that the payment for the property did not reflect its potential for development or income.

When he filed his petition in Rockingham County Superior Court, Wolters did not seek a set amount of money for the three parcels and instead left that for the court to decide. A jury awarded him $13.5 million in December 2013 after a two-week trial.

The Executive Council has already approved the $13.5 million award to Wolters.

The state used 30 acres for the expansion project.

The council meets at 10 a.m. today in Executive Council Chambers in the State House.

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