Sever | Storey Blog

PennEast makes formal application for natural gas pipeline



A little more than a year after it announced plans that triggered outcry and concern, PennEast Pipeline submitted a formal application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a 118-mile-long natural gas pipeline.

The submission signals the next critical step in moving forward with the pipeline, which would travel from Wilkes-Barre to Mercer County, N.J., crossing through nine Northampton County municipalities along the way.

FERC, an independent agency that regulates interstate utility lines, must decide whether to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which would authorize PennEast to construct, install, own and operate the pipeline.

A copy of the formal application was not immediately available, though PennEast spokeswoman Pat Kornick confirmed it had been submitted Thursday evening.

It could take several hours for the application to be posted to FERC's website, she said.

Pipeline officials held a news conference Thursday morning to announce the filing and extol the economic benefits of the project.

They say it would stabilize natural gas supplies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delivering reduced energy costs to residents and businesses as it moves natural gas from Marcellus Shale in northern Pennsylvania to markets in eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the PennEast Pipeline and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at

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Understanding eminent domain


By Brian Ravencraft, CPA, CGMA, Partner- Holbrook & Manter & Jeffrey A. Easterday, Partner, Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham & Eselgroth, LLP

Construction is all around us. Expansion projects, improvement efforts, new buildings taking shape — these types of things have become the norm. While we all want better infrastructure, the inconvenience of orange barrels can be dreadful. Bring on some additional dread when projects have a more personal impact and they come at the expense of your land.

Let’s take closer look at eminent domain, which is affecting more and more land owners. The Fifth Amendment states “… nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The usual process of obtaining land through eminent domain includes passage of a resolution by the acquiring agency to take the property (condemnation), including a declaration of public need, followed by an appraisal and an offer, generally with some opportunity for negotiation. If the offer is not accepted, the agency may then file a petition in court to acquire the property by eminent domain. If the owner wishes to challenge the petition, the owner must file an answer in the court case in a timely manner. While it often seems to be the case that we are not happy as land owners with the initial offer, it is important to note that the government may become owner while litigation is on-going, if the amount of the offer is deposited into a trust account.

Full story here.

What to Expect from an Eminent Domain Trial

When the government wants to take your land via eminent domain1 powers, legal disagreements can arise between you and the government entity, often regarding two main issues. These issues are whether the eminent domain taking is valid and for public use or whether the government's offer of compensation is adequate based on the fair market value2 of your property. If these issues cannot be resolved through settlement negotiations, your case may have to go to trial in court. Many property owners are intimidated by the idea of trial and may be tempted to accept an unfair agreement simply to avoid going to court. However, with the assistance of an experienced, you can receive a favorable result at trial.

If you cannot reach an agreement, the decision regarding whether the condemnation action is valid or the fair market value of the property will be placed in the hands of the judge. The judge will hear arguments and evidence from both your attorney and the government. Such evidence can include appraisals, business goodwill estimates, and much more. When the judge rules on the case, the decision will be legally binding. For example, imagine that the government wants to pay you $150,000 for your property and you believe your property is worth $275,000 and you were unable to reach an acceptable compromise out of court. If the judge decides that you should be compensated $200,000 based on the evidence, both you and the government will have to abide by that decision unless someone appeals.

Because the power is out of your hands at a trial, it is often favorable to resolve a case during the settlement phase because you have more control over the results. However, if you do have to go to court, you need to make sure you have a lawyer with the litigation experience necessary to achieve successful results.

Discuss your case with an experienced eminent domain attorney as soon as possible

At the law office of Sever Storey, LLP our skilled condemnation attorneys know how to handle landowner cases both in settlement stages and at trial. If you are facing an eminent domain action, call us today at 888-318-3761 for assistance.





FAQs About Condemnation Cases


Many landowners are not very familiar with the issues involved in condemnation cases because they never thought that eminent domain1 would affect them. For this reason, owners facing condemnation actions have numerous questions that they should feel free to ask an experienced attorney. The following are some examples of frequently asked questions and brief explanations regarding this type of case. Of course, once a lawyer knows the specifics of your situation, they will be able to give you more detailed answers regarding your individuals case.

Will I actually lose my property?

Some property owners may be under the assumption that they can avoid the condemnation of their property by the government. However, you can only successfully challenge eminent domain actions under very specific circumstances. Though it may be difficult to believe that the government actually has the power to take your land away, the government regularly and successfully does just that for many types of projects. You should always take an eminent domain notice seriously and discuss your case with an attorney who will be able to inform you whether any challenges or defenses apply in your case.

Should I accept the government's offer?

Another common assumption is that the government will make a fair offer to compensate you for your land. This is rarely the case, however, as the government is looking to avoid liability like anyone else. The first offer is generally inadequate and you should never accept less than you deserve for your land. Instead, a lawyer can help determine the true fair market value of your property and negotiate with the government for just compensation.

Will my case go to court?

In many cases, owners are able to reach a favorable settlement agreement2 with the government for compensation out of court with the assistance of a qualified attorney. If you are unable to do so, your case may go to trial and a judge will make the decision regarding how much you should receive in return for the taking of your property.

Again, landowners facing eminent domain actions should have numerous questions and the experienced condemnation attorneys at the law office of Sever Storey, LLP can help. Please do not hesitate to call us at 888-318-3761 for assistance.





Illinois may decide on Grain Belt Express in November

Transmission Lines

Illinois regulators may decide in November whether to approve a controversial high-voltage power line.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has finished up almost a week of hearings on plans by Clean Line Energy Partners to build the Grain Belt Express through the state.

The news comes almost two weeks after the Missouri Public Service Commission rejected Clean Line’s request for a re-hearing because it said the utility did not show sufficient reason. Missouri in July rejected Clean Line’s plan, saying it did not adequately show that the state or landowners would benefit.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Grain Belt Express Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at

The Source of Eminent Domain Powers



Though most people have heard of eminent domain, you may not realize just how and why federal and state government entities have the power to take private property from landowners for public use. Many believe that eminent domain powers are sourced from the 5th Amendment1 of the United States Constitution. However, eminent domain is actually a power based on sovereignty and does not come from any provision in the constitution. The 5th Amendment then sets out certain limitations and requirements on the government's power to take private lands.

In the 1870's, the federal government wanted to claim land to build a post office in Ohio and the landowner challenged the taking. The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the taking,2 ruling that eminent domain is necessary for a perpetual and effective government. Following that case, the most common reason for eminent domain actions was for transportation development and improvements. Railroads, highways, and other roadways all needed to be built as the population expanded into more remote areas of the country. However, with the population growing, certain areas had no public land left to utilize, so the government had to turn to private lands to accomplish its goals and complete projects.

Throughout the past 150 years, courts have regularly permitted the government to take land as long as it meets the “public use” requirement. In more recent decades, courts have widely expanded the interpretation of what constitutes a public use and government entities have been able to successfully pursue condemnation actions for commercial development projects. The government must prove that the private projects will benefit the public in some way, though the ability to take lands under eminent domain is not as limited as it once had been.

Discuss your situation with an experienced eminent domain attorney today

Though takings under eminent domain are permissible, the government must still provide just compensation to landowners. Having the assistance of a skilled condemnation attorney can protect your rights as a landowner and make sure the government does not overstep the bounds of its powers. Call the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP today at 888-318-3761 for help today.





Dakota Access eyes properties for eminent domain


Last week, Texas-based Dakota Access LLC began filing paperwork with the Iowa Utilities Board identifying parcels of land on which it wants to secure easements to bury a crude oil pipeline under but has not reached agreements with the landowners.

The documents currently single out 31 properties in Story County and another 48 in Boone County — just two of the 18 counties through which Dakota Access wants to bury the pipeline, which it has said would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude a day from oil shales in North Dakota to a hub in Illinois for further distribution.

The filings are a requirement in Dakota Access’ attempt to secure a hazardous liquid pipeline permit from the IUB. If that happens, the IUB could grant the company the power of eminent domain to bury the pipeline on the properties of unwilling landowners, although whether Iowa law grants the board the power to do so is under dispute.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Dakota Access Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at

Will County to seek 'quick take' powers for I-55, Weber Road project

I-55 at Weber Rd Study Area

ROMEOVILLE — Will County will likely have to resort to “quick take” powers to gain control of land needed to complete the road project at Weber Road and Interstate 55 in Romeoville from property owners.

To coincide with the Illinois Department of Transportation's spring 2016 bid-letting timeline, Will County Highway Engineer Bruce Gould said the county needs to go to the Illinois General Assembly this fall for approval to bypass potentially lengthy eminent domain court proceedings.

Otherwise, the county's portion of the major road project could be delayed another two to three years, Gould told members of the Will County Executive Committee Thursday. There are 26 parcels in all needed for right-of-way, he said.

Quick take powers allow local governments to take control of land after filing a condemnation case by paying the approximate value of the property, also known as “preliminary just compensation,” to the property owner, according to IDOT. Quick take doesn't strip away property owners' rights to argue land value, but it allows the county to take land needed for the project prior to anticipated court proceedings.

Gould's announcement was welcomed by committee Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, and board member Don Moran, D-Romeoville.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the I-55/Weber Road Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at

Keep focused on the FERC

Map NEXUS Full

The company proposing a natural gas pipeline that would run across northern Ohio went into court this week to force property owners in Green and New Franklin to allow surveyors on their property. As plans for the 250-mile pipeline move forward, it is natural that opposition would grow in suburban communities, where homeowners have made substantial investments. What residents should not expect is that seeking to block access will halt the pipeline project.

The agency responsible for approving the Nexus pipeline, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, does consider local safety and environmental concerns. It also must take into account a broad set of priorities, weighing local concerns in the balance with the overall energy requirements of an entire nation.

To their credit, city leaders in Green, working with a grass-roots group called the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, proposed a specific alternative to the company’s route, shifting some 103 miles of pipeline farther to the south. In that way, it would cross less-populated areas in southern Stark and Wayne counties.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Nexus Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at

Are You Entitled to Eminent Domain Relocation Benefits?


If the government initiates a valid eminent domain action against your property, you often will have to move whether you want to do so or not. Your main recourse, however, is to make sure that you receive the full amount of just compensation you deserve not only for the value of your property but also for any other qualified financial losses that you suffer as a result of the taking. One kind of benefit to which you may be entitled includes compensation for any expenses you face to relocate yourself, your family, or your business.

Property and business owners may face many different relocation1 expenses, which can include the following:

  • Moving personal property
  • New advertising products including business cards and stationary with a new address
  • Moving equipment, fixtures, or machinery
  • Costs of reestablishment in a new location

Relocation costs can vary widely from case to case for business owners. For example, a real estate agency may only need to move desks and similar office supplies, so most of their expenses may result from reestablishment. On the other hand, a manufacturing plant may have large machines specifically tailored for that particular types of operations. Moving such machinery is difficult and may even be impossible in some situations, which means a business will either have to purchase new equipment or cease operations.

Calculating all of the relocation expenses that you deserve can be extremely complex and too many property or business owners underestimate the true expenses that they will face if they have to move. If you retain an experienced eminent domain attorney, they can help you identify all of the possible compensation to which you may be entitled and have resources to correctly calculate your losses. An attorney can also identify whether an expert opinion is necessary in your case to help with negotiations with the government or in court.

An experienced condemnation lawyer can assist you

The relocation expenses and benefits are different in every condemnation case. At the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP, we know how to represent business owners and landowners in every type of eminent domain case. Please call our office today at 888-318-3761 to learn how we can help you.




Educational Videos

Sever Storey is passionate about helping landowners. We have created a video library packed with knowledge and information to help landowners gain more facts about the eminent domain process. Please watch the video's and let us know if you have any questions that we can help answer.




It is our mission to hold the Commonwealth of Kentucky and utilities accountable to provide just compensation to landowners. Besides the State of Kentucky, landowners can have their land taken by eminent domain and condemnation by utility companies including water departments, electric and...


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