A man who turned down €150,000 from a quarrying firm for a strip of land outside his house has been accused of trying to hold the firm hostage.
Keith Smyth of Ballyburn, Casteldermot, Co. Kildare sued Dan Morrissey Ireland Ltd (DMI) of Bennekerry, Co. Carlow.
He asked the High Court to tear up the new surface outside his home and re-lay it according to the terms of its planning permission.
But, the Sunday Business Post reported, DMI claimed that Smyth was merely trying to force the company to buy the land in front of his home. It said this was an abuse of process and a classic example of a “hostage strip”. Smyth denied the claim.
In September 2005, DMI submitted a planning application for a quarry to Kildare County Council.
Local residents objected but, a year later, the council granted planning permission.
The decision was upheld by An Bord Pleanaland subject to 29 conditions, including improvement of Ballyburn Raod, which leads to the quarry.
A footpath was to be built in front of Smyth’s house and the road widened, which required DMI to buy the land.
The company offered Smyth €150,000 for two metres in front of his house, but he refused. The company then acquired land across the road and built a footpath there.
The road was 7.5 metres wide and raised by 20 centimetres.
Smyth claimed that the road was now noisier and more dangerous.
He said he had to negotiate “a steep incline” when leaving his property and had to to drive right on to the road before he had a safe line of sight.
DMI had omitted to mention that the company had given his father €50,000 and his wife a Volkswagen Passat to make up for any inconvenience caused by the raod upgrade. It said that rebuilding the road would seriously inconvenience Kildare County Council, which had supervised the upgrading and Smyth could resolve the issue by removing trees outside his property.
Mr. Justice John Hedigan said this seemed “manifestly correct.”
He could not understand why Smyth had not made a formal complaint to the county council, nor why he had delayed in bringing the proceedings, despite his claim that the road was dangerous,
“Kildare County Council would have taken enforcement action if they had deemed the road to be dangerous,” he said.
Smyth’s decision to refuse €150,000 for the land in front of his house was his “undoubted entitlement” but the decision had certain “consequences”.
“In these circumstances it seems to me that it would be wholly disproportionate to require the road to be torn up, lowered and realigned,” said the judge.