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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Eminent Domain

eminent-domain-faqs

What is eminent domain?

 

Eminent domain1 is the power of the government to take a private property for public use, so long as the person who owned the property is provided just compensation. In practice, eminent domain tends to be used for the acquisition of land for various types of development projects.

 

What constitutes a public use?

 

Through decades of case law, the idea of “public use” has been expanded significantly. In fact, many landowners are surprised to learn that a private development can be deemed a public use if it will improve the local economy or generate additional tax revenue. As a result, eminent domain can be used for projects as varied as the expansion of roads, schools, courthouses, and other purely public projects, but may also be used if private developers want to build new housing, commercial space, or engage in the extraction or transport of natural resources.

 

How is just compensation determined?

 

Generally speaking, the starting point for the determination of just compensation is the fair market value2 of the property, which is the amount a buyer would pay for the property if neither the buyer nor the seller was under any compulsion to make a transaction. In addition to the fair market value, just compensation may be influenced by any future uses of the land that may increase its value.

 

Do I need an attorney if my land may be subject to an eminent domain taking?

 

Landowners are certainly free to negotiate eminent domain matters without the assistance of an attorney, but it is important to be aware that unrepresented parties are often offered significantly less for their property than people who have retained legal counsel. An attorney familiar with eminent domain law will be able to assess the value of your property and advocate for increased compensation, should your circumstances justify it.

 

Contact Sever Storey, LLP today to schedule a free consultation with an Illinois eminent domain attorney

Landowners who believe that their property may be subject to an eminent domain action should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced eminent domain lawyer, call Sever Storey, LLP today at 888-318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.

 

References:

1 https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/eminent_domain

2 https://www.irs.gov/publications/p561/ar02.html#d0e139

 

Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline May Affect Oregon Landowners

pacific-connector-gas-pipeline
A proposed project that would move natural gas through a 232-mile pipeline has the potential to affect a substantial number of Oregon landowners, should energy company Williams obtain approval to move forward. Known as the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline, the proposed pipeline would move 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day from Malin, Oregon to the Jordan Cove LNG Terminal in Coos Bay, where it would be liquefied in order to transport it to overseas markets.

Williams seeking permanent easements

In order to gain access to the land through which the pipeline would run, Williams is seeking permanent easements from affected landowners. An easement1 is a right to enter and use another person’s land for a specific purpose. Williams is offering landowners compensation for the easements they seek, which they have the right to refuse. If they did, however, Williams may still be able to obtain the land by requesting the government exercise its power of eminent domain, allowing it to take private property from landowners, so long as it is for a public purpose and the land owner receives just compensation.

Do landowners who may be affected by the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline need an attorney?

The eminent domain lawyers are strongly urging that any landowner that believes that he or she may be affected by the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Determining the value of an easement in this type of context can be a complicated issue, and the assistance an attorney will help ensure that landowners obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. Some of the ways in which an experienced eminent domain attorney can help include the following:

•    Independently assess the value of the land
•    Negotiate a fair and reasonable offer
•    Represent you in any eminent domain proceedings that may arise.

Contact an eminent domain attorney today to schedule a free case evaluation

If you believe that your property may be affected by the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline or another similar project, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with one of the eminent domain lawyers of Sever Storey, LLP, call our office today at 888-318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.

References:

1 https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/easement

 

Compensation You Deserve For The Taking Of Your Property

 

eminent-domain-compensation-attorneys
If your property is subject to a taking under the government's eminent domain powers, the 5th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States1 requires that the government provide “just compensation” for the loss of your land. The following is some additional information regarding the compensation you deserve if your property is part of a condemnation action.

Just compensation for the property – Most importantly, you are entitled to compensation for the value of the property you are losing. Proper valuation of the land by a knowledgeable eminent domain appraiser is critical, as this compensation is not necessarily based on the tax or market value of the land. Instead, the appraisal should consider the value of its “highest and best use” (HBU)2. In addition, if only part of your land is taken, you should receive full compensation for any damage that occurred to the remaining part of the property. Negotiations regarding the “just” amount can occur between the landowner and the government and, if a hearing is required, a judge or jury can make that determination based on evidence presented in court.

Compensation for relocation expenses – In addition to losing your land, relocating your life to another property often costs additional money. Both federal and state laws allow for compensation for relocation expenses in certain qualifying situations.

Other compensation based on state law – State statutes entitling landowners to additional types of compensation can vary widely. Some states may allow for loss of business good will or other business-related damages, reimbursement for expert fees, appraisal fees, and/or attorney's fees. In addition, some states, such as Minnesota, may require more than the minimum just compensation in some cases, while other states may pay extra to owners who owned the land for a particularly long time.

Contact an experienced Ohio eminent domain lawyer for assistance

Determining the amount of compensation to which you are entitled can be complicated and the skilled condemnation attorneys at the law office of Sever Storey, LLP can assist you in calculations, negotiations, and more. Please call today at 888-318-3761 for help.

References:

1https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fifth_amendment
2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest_and_best_use

 

I Got a Notice Of Condemnation – Now What?

eminent-domain-condemnation
Many people know little about the eminent domain process until it affects them. For this reason, many landowners who receive notice of an impending condemnation (taking) of their land do not know how to proceed or where to turn.

Gather information – The notice should have information about any local meetings or other informative gatherings meant to inform affected property owners of the proposed project that requires the condemnation and that gives them a chance to speak out against the project. Even if property owners are vehemently opposed to the project, it may not always have any effect, however, these meetings can give you information about the nature of the condemnation.

Learn about your rights – It is highly important to know all of your rights as a landowner in a potential condemnation. First, you have the right to choose whether to voluntarily sell all or part of your land to the project developer. If you choose not to sell, you have the right under the 5th Amendment1 to demand just compensation for your property loss in the eminent domain case. It is important to know the true value of your land and your losses to argue for just compensation.

Call an attorney – An attorney can help you with every step of your condemnation case, from notice to hearing to obtaining proper compensation. The guidance of an attorney who understands this type of case can be invaluable for your peace of mind and financial future.

Contact an experienced Illinois condemnation attorney as soon as possible

There are few things that are more stressful than facing the loss of your property. Landowners who receive notices of an impending condemnation action feel this stress and concern, especially if they do not want to voluntarily negotiate to sell their property. At the law office of Sever Storey, LLP, we have helped allay the fears of many landowners in this position. Even if the taking of your property is inevitable, we will protect your rights to receive the just compensation you deserve to start over in a new property. Please do not hesitate to call our office at 888-318-3761 as soon as possible to discuss your case.

References:

1 https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fifth_amendment

Eminent Domain In Blighted Neighborhoods

 

eminent-domain-blight
The term “urban blight” refers to the process by which a previously successful and functioning area of a city falls into a state of disrepair. When an area becomes blighted, many states allow the government to take the private property from the landowners under eminent domain1 to redevelop the area for public use or economic development.

Though the exact requirements of a blighted area vary widely from one state to another, the following are some common signs of blight:

•    Deteriorating and/or abandoned structures
•    Population loss or significantly changed population demographics
•    Defective street layout
•    Unsafe or unsanitary conditions
•    Lack of utilities or public works improvements
•    Environmental contamination of nearby structures or land

Such characteristics are often considered to impair the growth of a municipality, encourage unemployment, crime, and political disenfranchisement, cause economic liability, and present a nuisance  or menace to public safety, health, or welfare. For these reasons, the government justifies its actions in taking private property from areas deemed “blighted” to use for another purpose—often commercial development.

Though redeveloping blighted areas may seem like a positive step to many, it can cause major harm to landowners in these areas. Additionally, the definition of “blight” is often so vague that the government may try to seize property under the guise of blight when, in reality, the neighborhood is functioning and vibrant. One abandoned building should not mean that an entire block of homes should be seized from their owners and torn down, though studies2 have shown that the government often abuses its powers to condemn blighted areas.

Contact a qualified North Carolina condemnation attorney as soon as possible

Whether an area is actually blighted or not, landowners have legal rights in the face of eminent domain. At the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP, we are committed to standing up for property owners in North Carolina and several other states so that the government does not abuse its condemnation powers in any way. We have handled all types of eminent domain cases from a small residential lot to acres of land, so please do no hesitate to call us at 888-318-3761 today to find out more about how we can assist you.

References:

1https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/eminent_domain

2https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/mygsb/faculty/research/pubfiles/4629/Gold%20&%20Sagalyn_Final.pdf

 

Brief Overview of Eminent Domain Powers

eminent-domain-powers

Many people have heard the term eminent domain, but some may not know exactly what the government can do under this doctrine or how the process works. The following is a brief overview of eminent domain and, if you need any specific information, please call a qualified eminent domain attorney for help today.

Where do eminent domain powers come from?
The government has powers to take private property under common law. The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States then places certain limitations on these powers, including:

•    The taking must be for “public use;” and
•    The government must provide “just compensation” to the property owner for the taking.

If these two criteria are met, the property can be condemned. This type of condemnation is not due to the state of the building or property but simply because the government is claiming it.

Initiating an eminent domain action
The government is required to notify a landowner if their property may be condemned for a project. Often, the government must try to reach a voluntary sales agreement with the landowner prior to initiating a legal action.

Can a landowner challenge a condemnation?
Outright challenges to an eminent domain action are rare and generally only occur if the project is clearly not for “public use.” However, a property owner can still challenge parts of the action, including the following:

•    Whether the government is claiming more land than necessary for the project;
•    Whether the amount offered for the property actual constitutes just compensation based on the owner's losses.

An eminent domain lawyer in Indiana can help you
If you receive notice of a project that has been proposed that may affect your land ownership rights, you should never delay in calling an experienced Indiana condemnation attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you contact the law office of Sever Storey LLP, the sooner we can begin protecting your rights as a property owner. We handle eminent domain cases for both residential and commercial properties, so please do not hesitate to call our office at 888-318-3761 to assistance today.

 

Ohio Court Limits “Quick Take” Powers

eminent-domain-ohio
Many states including Ohio allow a condemning government authority to “quick take” a property under eminent domain powers. This means that, upon filing the petition for the condemnation, the government claims immediate ownership of the land without having any type of trial or hearing. Ohio eminent domain laws1 allow this type of taking specifically for the repair and/or building of roads and the law requires the government to deposit money with the court to compensate the landowner. This type of accelerated taking allows the government to take possession of certain lands without having to wait out the entire, often lengthy eminent domain process.

Though this type of taking is limited to roadway-purposes in Ohio, many condemning authorities have been abusing this legal tool by attempting to quick take property for other reasons. For example, recently, the City of Perrysburg tried to use the quick take process to claim possession of land for road improvements. However, the declaration of taking filed with the court also stated the land would be used for “other municipal purposes.” These purposes, it turned out, were for bike paths, sidewalks, and similar amenities that were not directly related to the widening of the roadway.

A state court ruled against the quick taking2 in early November, stating that the city could not claim lands through this accelerated process for non-road related purposes. Instead, the government must follow the regular eminent domain procedures, which involve negotiations with landowners and trying to reach an agreement instead of simply laying immediate claim to the private property.

Find out how a skilled Ohio condemnation attorney can assist you today

At the law office of Sever Storey, LLP, our eminent domain lawyers help landowners facing quick taking proceedings and protect their rights to their land and to just compensation for any land lost to the government. We regularly work in Ohio and other states that have quick take statutes, so you should never hesitate to call us for help if your believe your land ownership is in jeopardy. Please contact our office at 888-318-3761 or by using our online contact form today.

1http://www.ccao.org/userfiles/HDBKCHAP009-2011.pdf
2http://watchdog.org/245414/ohio-court-quick-take/

 

When Cities Take Private Property For Sports Stadiums

stadium-eminent-domain

Professional sports are a large part of the pride and culture in a lot of cities across the United States. In order to have a successful sports franchise, a city must have a place for the team to play that is inviting and accommodating for large crowds of spectators. These stadiums must house the large playing area, tens of thousands of seats, boxes, food stands, gift shops, restaurants, and much more. For this reason, a city will need a large area to build a state-of-the-art stadium.

Because the ideal location for a sports stadium is as close to the downtown area as possible, it is often necessary to clear existing businesses, homes, and other buildings to create a large enough lot for the stadium. If landowners refuse to sell their property, many cities use their powers of eminent domain under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution1 to take the land. The following are some examples of cities that have used eminent domain for this purpose:

•    Sacramento, CA
•    San Diego, CA
•    Arlington, TX
•    Washington, DC
•    Los Angeles, CA
•    Brooklyn, NY

Cities all over the country have turned to eminent domain for stadium purposes. Right across the river from Illinois, the city of St. Louis is considering using eminent domain if plans for a new football stadium are approved. Fortunately, the mayor of Boston recently announced2 that he did not plan to use eminent domain if the city wins the Olympic bid for the 2024 games.

Discuss your rights with an experienced Illinois eminent domain attorney today

While the city may be willing to do anything to successfully complete a sports stadium project and earn additional revenue, your rights as a private property owner are important and should be upheld. Too often, attorneys for the government will take advantage of a landowner's lack of familiarity with eminent domain laws and what is allowed and not allowed. If you have a qualified condemnation lawyer on your side, you have a much better chance of avoiding wrongful condemnation or receiving the full amount of just compensation for your land. Please call the law office of Sever Storey, LLP at 888-318-3761 for help.

1https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fifth_amendment
2https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/01/31/boston-will-not-use-eminent-domain-to-build-an-olympic-stadium/

 

INDOT to update I-69 studies, take public comment

I-69-Section-6-Preliminary-Alts-Map1-940x626

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 30, 2015) - Members of the public have three chances this week to ask questions and voice concerns about the future of I-69 between Martinsville and Indianapolis.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation have scheduled three public meetings this week. Each of the meetings will include an open house session starting at 6 p.m., followed by a formal INDOT presentation at 7 p.m. The meeting dates and locations are:

  • Monday: Perry Meridian High School, 401 W. Meridian School Rd., Indianapolis
  • Wednesday: Mooresville High School, 11 N. Carlisle St., Mooresville
  • Thursday: Martinsville High School, 1360 E. Gray St., Martinsville

INDOT Spokesman LaMar Holliday said people attending the meetings will get a chance to learn new details about each of the five possible routes being studied for the future I-69 extension.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the I-69 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 www.landownerattorneys.com.

Regulators stop review of Rock Island Clean Line

Rock Island

State regulators have suspended a review of a proposed $2 billion interstate electric transmission line at the request of developers.

Backers of the proposed Rock Island Clean Line, a subsidiary of Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners, asked the Iowa Utilities Board to put a hold on the technical review as the company determines the process for moving the project forward in Iowa, a Clean Line spokeswoman said Thursday.

“The regulatory process in Iowa is unique because companies are required to complete right-of-way acquisition up front before the IUB has determined whether the project is in the public interest,” spokeswoman Sarah Bray said.

The Iowa Utilities Board has granted the request and is not actively reviewing the franchise petition, which was filed in November 2014.

Donald Tormey, spokesman for the IUB, said the project has been on hold for some time. The company requested the pause in review in May or June, but there is not a formal process to do so, so there was no official notice needed or given by the IUB, he said.

The 500-mile line would transmit 3,500 megawatts of wind energy from wind farms in northwest Iowa to customers in Illinois. The project calls for erecting towers to carry high-voltage overhead lines diagonally across the state through 1,540 parcels of land in 16 Iowa counties, including Linn.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Rock Island Clean Line 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 www.landownerattorneys.com.

Educational Videos

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