Sever | Storey Blog

Are You Affected By The I-69 Project?


Earlier this year, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced its decision for the route for the final part of the long-lasting I-69 construction. The last leg will run along the path of Indiana Highway 37 between Indianapolis and Martinsville and that state highway will be expanded into a major interstate. Needless to say, expanded the highway in such a way will require the encroachment onto properties on both sides of Ind. 37 along the length of the leg.

Many pieces of land, homes, and businesses will need to be torn down to make way for the new I-69, including extra lanes, interchanges, underpasses, and overpasses. In addition, construction crews will need to use additional land to store equipment, drive vehicles, and other construction-related needs. The state has the right to seize these lands due to eminent domain powers.

The state of Indiana has estimated that at least the following will be affected by such eminent domain for I-69:

●    69 business owners;
●    279 land or homeowners.

Are you one of these businesses or homeowners along Ind. 37? If so, you should have received notice from INDOT that your land will be affected. Too many people receive this notice and do not know where to turn or how to proceed. You should always begin by learning your rights as a landowner, of which there are many. Such rights can include:

●    The right to challenge whether the entire portion of seized land is necessary for the project;
●    The right to receive just compensation for all land taken, damaged, or used;
●    The right to reject the offer of compensation from the government and offer evidence why you deserve more.

These cases can be complex and the government can be intimidating, so you always want to talk with an experienced attorney who understands condemnation cases.

Contact an Experienced Indiana Condemnation Attorney Today

If you have received notice that your home, business, or land is in jeopardy because of the upcoming I-69 expansion project, you should not wait any longer to call the highly skilled eminent domain attorneys at Sever Storey, LLP. We have already helped many landowners throughout Indiana ensure that their property rights were not violated, so please call our office at 888-318-3761.



North Carolina Supreme Court Strikes Down Part Of The Map Act


Under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the state of North Carolina has the power to use eminent domain to seize private property to be used for the public good, so long as property owners receive just compensation for their losses. In 1987, the state expanded those powers when it enacted the Transportation Corridor Official Map Act (“Map Act”),1 which allowed the state Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to indicate which corridors of land it planned to use for future projects and to prohibit landowners from building on or developing property in those corridors. However, the NCDOT was not required to have a certain timeline for the projects or to compensate landowners for the restrictions on the use of their lands.

In the case of Kirby v. North Carolina Department of Transportation2, several landowners who had been affected by the Map Act since its enactment challenged the constitutionality of the Act and demanded just compensation if the NCDOT continued to restrict their landowner rights. In June, the NC Supreme Court ruled that is was, in fact, unconstitutional to restrict rights without compensation and ordered that the landowners be justly compensated for the restrictions of land development. Sever Storey, LLP helped lead the way for property owners in the Greensboro Northern Loop who were affected by the Map Act, and we filed the first Guilford County cases to challenge the statute on behalf of Greensboro Loop property owners.

Complex challenges to eminent domain powers are highly important because they pave the way for the rights of landowners throughout the state of North Carolina. While the government does have the power to condemn land for certain projects, the government has been known to abuse those powers and it is important for landowners to stand up for their rights. The above case demonstrates how it is possible to prevail in a challenge to the government for overstepping its bounds, even if the law had been enforced for decades.

Contact a North Carolina Eminent Domain Attorney for Assistance Today

Sever Storey, LLP assists landowners in North Carolina and several other states with matters regarding property condemnation. If you have any concerns or if your property has been seized, please call us today at 888-318-3761 for free today.



Common Terms In An Eminent Domain Case


The power of eminent domain and how it affects landowners can be complicated enough. To add to the confusion, the government and courts use terminology that is likely unfamiliar to landowners throughout an eminent domain case. The following are brief explanations of some common terms you may hear in these cases.

Condemnation - Condemnation means the same thing as “eminent domain,” which is the taking of a private property for a public use in return for just compensation to the landowner. Local, state, and federal governments have condemnation powers under the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Public Use - Public use is one of the requirements for eminent domain to be lawful, meaning that the project or purpose for which the lands are condemned will serve a public purpose or benefit. Public use commonly includes expanding or building highways, building courts or schools, improving utilities, and more. However, courts have recently held that commercial developments can also count as public use.

Just Compensation - While the United States Constitution gives the government the power to take property, it also provides the right of just compensation to landowners. Landowners are entitled to compensation for any land that is taken, used, or damaged by the government. What amount is considered to be “just” will depend on many factors and landowners often have to negotiate with the government in order to receive what is truly just.

Inverse Condemnation - Generally speaking, the government will pay just compensation to a landowner before officially taking their property. If the government unlawfully takes property and fails to properly provide just compensation or otherwise follow the required procedures, landowners then have the legal right to take action called inverse condemnation to seek the compensation they deserve.

Call an Experienced Eminent Domain Lawyer for More Information Today

Condemnation cases are complex and landowners are often unsure of their rights and the proper procedures to protect those rights. At the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP, we are here to help landowners protect their rights in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina, and more. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 888-318-3761.


Tenant’s Rights in a Condemnation Action



When the government seizes a piece of property in an eminent domain1 action, it should be fairly clear that the landowner is entitled to proper compensation for their losses. However, what happens if you lease or rent an apartment, home, or office that has been condemned? In such a situation, you may lose your home or your place of business and it may have a significantly adverse effect on your life. The following is some information regarding a tenant’s rights in a condemnation action.

Are You Entitled to Compensation?

Some landlords include “condemnation clauses” in their lease agreements that prevent tenants from having rights to compensation should the building be condemned. However, many leases do not have this clause and if this is the case, the compensation should be divided between the owner and tenants.

The amount of compensation will vary depending on your specific interests in the property, including leases, business interests, and more. If you made improvements to the property, you may be entitled to compensation for those improvements, as long as your lease does not specify otherwise.

What Happens if You Still Owe Rent?

A condemnation action does not invalidate an existing lease agreement, so you would still have the obligation to fulfill the terms of your lease. For this reason, many tenants may use any compensation they receive to pay off their lease. If you have a long-standing lease - which is common for businesses - that would continue for a number of years, the court may limit your compensation and simply terminate the lease agreement so you no longer have financial obligations regarding the property.

Discuss Your Rights with a Skilled Condemnation Attorney Today

Whether you are a landowner, business owner, or a tenant, your life and finances can be seriously impacted by an eminent domain action. It is important to fully understand your rights and have representation from a highly experienced eminent domain lawyer who knows how to protect your rights. The team at Sever Storey, LLP stands up for client interests against the government in many states, including Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. If you need assistance, please call our office at 888-318-3761 today.



What if a Condemned Property in NJ Is Also in Foreclosure?


It is generally troubling to learn that the government wants to seize your land. However, if you can longer afford your mortgage and are facing a possible foreclosure, you may not be as distressed to learn of a possible eminent domain action so long as you received enough compensation for your land. If the fair value of your land is more than your mortgage balance, you may get out from under your mortgage and start over on a new property all at the same time.

This situation is generally not as simple at is may seem at first, however, for different reasons. First, if you owe more on your mortgage than the city offers to pay you, you may understandably be reluctant to accept the offer. In such a situation, you and your attorney will have to negotiate with the city to ensure you receive the full amount you deserve for the condemnation, which can take time.

In the meantime, your mortgage lender may try to be involved in the condemnation case to negotiate for a higher compensation value for the land it is trying to foreclose upon. In one case out of New Jersey,1 a landowner did not properly reject the offer from the city for the condemnation. Because a foreclosure case was pending, the lender tried to intervene, stating that it had the right to negotiate in the eminent domain case.

The NJ court, however, ruled that only the entity that held actual title/deed to the land had the right to negotiate. If a lender has not yet completed the foreclosure and received the deed, it does not have the right to be involved in negotiations.

Call Experienced Condemnation Lawyers in New Jersey for Assistance

Eminent domain cases can become significantly more complicated if your property is in foreclosure. In addition, if you are behind on your mortgage, it is critical that you get enough compensation in your condemnation so you are not left with a mortgage balance and no property. If you have been notified of an eminent domain action regarding your land, you should discuss you situation with a skilled NJ eminent domain attorney as soon as possible. Call Sever Storey, LLP at 888-318-3761.



How Condemnation Can Affect Small Businesses


Hearing that the government wants to take the land on which you live is stressful, as you will need to figure out a new place to live if the condemnation is successful. However, if you run your own small business, learning there may be a condemnation of your business property can be even more worrisome. Whether you own or lease your business space, having the property condemned will require you to uproot your entire operation and find another location that is just as desirable. Such a move can cause an interruption in business and can greatly affect your profits, which can cause financial problems for you and your family.

For example, one Kentucky man built a small business out of his home into an interstate food distribution operation that reportedly brings in $400,000 on an annual basis. His business sits on seven acres and includes a warehouse, loading dock, and plans to expand onto the empty parts of the property. However, the city of Shelbyville, Kentucky is exercising eminent domain powers1 to seize the land for a “public project.” The city offered him $150,000 for the land and, not surprisingly, the owner is contesting the offer.

In such a situation, if condemnation is inevitable, small business owners have the right to fight to ensure they receive just compensation for their property under the law2 to ensure they have the capital to set up their business elsewhere. This is no easy task, however, the success of the business often depends on the compensation you are able to secure in the eminent domain action.

Call an Experienced Kentucky Eminent Domain Attorney for Help Today

Having your small business be the focus of an eminent domain action can completely change your life. Your hard work, livelihood, and financial well-being of your family may be in jeopardy and you do not want to risk losing significant value for your business and property. At the law office of Sever Storey, LLP, our skilled Kentucky condemnation lawyers have helped many small business owners in Kentucky come out on top in these cases. For more information about how we can help you, please call us at 888-318-3761 today.



Can You Appeal An Eminent Domain Decision?



If you receive notice of a potential Illinois eminent domain action that will affect your property, you have the right to legally challenge the condemnation if there is a basis on which to do so. Some common reasons to challenge the condemnation of your property in court may include the following:

●    The condemnation is not intended for “public use” as required by the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution;1
●    Your property is not actually necessary for the project to be completed;
●    The hardship that would result from the condemnation outweighs the benefits.

Challenges are not always successful, however, and a recent case out of Illinois is an example of how a company tried unsuccessfully to fight against an eminent domain action for part of its property.

While railroads can often be the reason behind eminent domain cases, in this case, Canadian Pacific Railroad is fighting against seizure of part of a railyard after the Illinois Tollway Authority had filed a notice that it intended to take part of the railyard. The Railroad claimed hardship on the part of the Tollway, taxpayers, and interstate commerce if the highway was built through the railyard. The court, however, disagreed and denied the injunction that would stop the seizure of the land. This leads to the question: Can you appeal an eminent domain decision that is against your interests as a landowner?

The answer is yes, and the Railroad has filed an appeal of the decision2 in lower Illinois courts. Landowners do have the ability to appeal a decision to higher courts, just as in many other types of legal actions. You need an attorney on your side who can advise you whether you should appeal and who knows how the appeal process works.

Find Out How an Experienced Condemnation Lawyer Can Help You

Receiving an adverse decision in an eminent domain case can be distressing. However, as a landowner, it is important to know that you do have options to negotiate and appeal in your case. Even if the condemnation moves forward, an experienced eminent domain attorney can still protect your rights by ensuring that you receive the compensation for your property that you deserve through negotiations and independent appraisals. If you are a landowner facing possible condemnation, please call the law office of Sever Storey, LLP at 888-318-3761 for more information about how we can help you.




Will Your Eminent Domain Case Go To Trial?


When the government authorizes an eminent domain action regarding your land, the government will make an offer to compensate you for your property. All too often, this offer is grossly inadequate and you have the right to contest the offer and demand what you believe is the fair value of your property. If the government does not agree to your price, an eminent domain attorney can engage in negotiations, using appraisals and other tools to help you obtain fair compensation. However, if the government refuses to agree to a fair value, your case can go to trial before the court.

Fighting for Fair Compensation

One landowner in Illinois may be heading to trial1 regarding his eminent domain case. This landowner has had experience with the condemnation process before, as the city of Rockford has previously seized land from him in the 1990s and the Illinois Department of Transportation secured a temporary easement to use his property in 2013. Now, the city once again wants to seize three properties to turn into parking lots. The city reportedly offered $490,000 for the properties, while the landowner maintains he deserves $895,000 for the condemnation. If they do not reach an agreement soon, the case will go to trial.

Eminent domain cases rarely make it all the way to trial. The court will require pretrial conferences2 for negotiation and you may engage in mediation to try to come to a favorable agreement in order to avoid the time and expense of trial. In some cases, though, the city refuses to make a reasonable offer and a landowner does have the right to a trial to stand up for their rights to the fair and just value of their land.

Discuss Your Case with an Illinois Eminent Domain Attorney Today

In many situations, trial can be avoided in an eminent domain case and your matter can be resolved through out-of-court negotiations. However, if your case goes make it to trial, you want a law firm on your side that has extensive litigation experience in eminent domain cases. If your landowner rights are being threatened, call the condemnation attorneys at Sever Storey, LLP at 888-318-3761 today.



Can An Ohio Landowner Challenge Eminent Domain?


If you are an Ohio landowner, and the government or other entity is attempting to take your property, it is important to understand if a landowner can challenge or object to eminent domain.  In a short answer, yes, the landowner can object.

The landowner needs to receive fair notice, meaning having enough time to seek advice of an attorney and prepare an objection against the government. It will give the landowner the chance to be heard if an actual taking has happened, and if the taking was for public use and if the owner received fair compensation.

There must be good faith negotiations with the landowner and the government, and fair compensation to be given, if an eminent domain action is about to commence. The landowner will first receive a letter of intent. Describing the property, this notice determines what it will be used for and what the monetary offer will be. Clearly, there will be a lot of negotiating at this critical point. A formal condemnation action[1] may be started if an agreeable compensation amount cannot be agreed upon.

Eminent Domain for Economic Development

For more than 50 years, Ohio law considered the promotion of economic development alone to be a public purpose warranting the exercise of eminent domain. But the law changed in 2007 to ensure that private property cannot be taken on the basis of economic development alone. Instead, the property involved must be deemed “blighted.” This change ensured that the public purpose for taking property on the basis of economic development is tied to the elimination of blight and the redevelopment of property for the public's benefit. 

Under Ohio law, a property can be considered “blighted” if it is unsafe for human habitation or use, poses a direct threat to public health or safety, or has unpaid taxes or assessments that exceed the fair value of the land. If an entire area is targeted to be taken through eminent domain[2], at least 70 percent of that area must be deemed blighted.

Contact an Ohio Condemnation Attorney

Landowners who believe they may be affected by eminent domain should contact an attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers of Sever Storey, LLP are dedicated to protecting the rights of landowners and ensuring that each client they represent obtains the full and fair value of any taking of their property that may occur. We represent both commercial and residential landowners in disputes ranging from small setbacks to takings involving millions of dollars. Please call today at 888-318-3761 for help.



Indiana Great Lakes Basin Railroad


Great Lakes Basin Transportation[1], Inc. proposes to construct a new railroad line around the metropolitan Chicago area.  The purpose of the new railroad is to expedite freight movements across the nation and to provide additional capacity for growing railroad traffic.

The Great Lakes Basin is a large railroad project extending from part of Indiana, through Illinois and into the southern part of Wisconsin. The privately funded Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc., (GLBT) plans to provide an $8 billion, 278-mile rail line[2] to circumvent Chicago's hub from Janesville, Wisconsin, south to Rockford, into Grundy County, Kankakee County, and into Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties in Indiana.

In recent weeks, the Federal Surface Transportation Board has conducted public meetings throughout the region, seeking input and drawing lots of opposition from area farmers. Next, the STB is expected to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a two- to three-year process, and then decide if it will approve or deny the project, or change the route.

Compensation for Indiana and Illinois Landowners

The main issue for impacted owners is will they be fairly compensated by Great Lakes Basin Railroad. The co-founder, Frank Patton, mentioned that they would be paid $20,000 an acre, pro-rated to the 200 foot right of way strip needed for the rails. There are many issues including impacting farmer operations, decreased overall land value and other issues such as access, tile and the potential impact on wetlands.

In a decision issued on April 8, 2016, the Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) announced to the public and all interested parties that the comment period for the EIS Draft Scope of Study will be extended an additional 30 days to June 15, 2016.

Contact an Indiana Condemnation Attorney

If you are an Indiana landowner and you believe that you and your land will be impacted by the proposed Great Lakes Basin Railroad project, the skilled Indiana condemnation attorneys at Sever Storey LLP have the experience necessary to review your situation and determine what steps are necessary to protect your interests. Please call today at 888-318-3761 for help.



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.



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