Foxborough: Real estate dispute over billboard and eminent domain

The town of Foxborough, Massachusetts, must allow FXP LLC, a real estate affiliate of the Kraft Group, to speak at a town meeting to address a dispute over a billboard on property owned by the Kraft Group, which also owns the New England Patriots professional football team. The Patriot’s Gillette Stadium and the Kraft Group’s Patriot Place shopping center are located in Foxborough. The rare public real estate dispute resulted in the group filing a legal complaint against the town in an attempt to protect their rights as landowners.

A U.S. District Court Judge ruled in favor of the group, requiring the town’s Board of Selectmen to allow FXP representatives and the Kraft Group to speak during the public portion of the meeting. Over the past four years, Foxborough and the Kraft Group have had a revenue sharing agreement involving joint management of the billboard. According to reports, the billboard has generated more than $1 million in revenue for the town over the last four years.

Now the town wants to take the land by eminent domain and bid on the rights to solely manage the billboard.

A spokesman for the Kraft Group said in an email statement that it is a shame they had to go to federal court in order to be allowed to speak at a public meeting, but are pleased with the courts prompt ruling. Foxborough town manager, who was also named in Kraft’s legal complaint, said that since the company is no longer intending to bid on the billboard contract it would have allowed company representatives to speak at the meeting.

The town manager went on to say that the eminent domain proceeding was inevitable because the Kraft Group would not allow any other entity to operate the billboard on its land. He said the Massachusetts Inspector General’s office ordered the town to bid out the billboard’s operating contract. A spokesperson for the Office of the Inspector General said the office has yet to issue an opinion on the case to the town of Foxborough.

Source: Boston Business Journal, “Kraft Group’s disputed billboard worth $300K per year to Foxborough,” Galen Moore, March 27, 2012