Appeals court invalidates DOT's offer for church land

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- An appeals court has tossed out the state Department of Transportation's $403,200 offer to buy land from an Appleton-area church.

The DOT began discussions with Christus Lutheran Church of Appleton in Greenville in 2016 to acquire about 6 acres of church property to expand State Highway 15. The land was appraised at about $133,000.

The congregation refused to sell. The DOT in 2017 offered $403,200. The church didn't respond and the property transferred to the department.

The church sued, arguing the offer wasn't based on fair market value. An Outagamie County judge sided with DOT, saying the appraisal is a supporting part of the offer and the church chose not to negotiate.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals invalidated the offer Tuesday, finding it wasn't sufficiently based on the appraisal.