Sever | Storey Blog

What Should You Do If You Receive Notice of a Condemnation Action?


In most legal cases, the party against whom the claim is filed has engaged in some type of wrongdoing to harm the plaintiff and they may even expect that legal action will be taken against them. However, eminent domain cases are very different than other types of civil matters. If you receive notice that a condemnation action has been filed against you in Ohio or any other state, it is not because you did anything wrong. One minute, you are simply living your life and the next, your most valuable asset is threatened—the very property on which you live or work. In this situation, it is not surprisingly that you may not know what to do or where to turn.

Seek legal counsel as soon as possible

When they receive notice of an eminent domain action, too many landowners do not realize that they have legal rights. An experienced condemnation attorney can advise you of all of your rights so that you can better understand how the process works. Some rights that you have include:

•    The right to have the condemnation justified by public use;1
•    The right to just compensation2 for your losses;
•    The right to have only the minimum amount of property affected that is necessary.

An attorney can advise you on the proper course of action in your case and ensure you do not miss court dates, that your rights are protected, and that the process goes as efficiently for you as possible.

Discuss your case with a qualified Ohio eminent domain lawyer today

If you purchased property, you should be able to enjoy that property freely and free from the threat that your land will suddenly be taken away from you through no fault of your own. At the law office of Sever Storey, LLP, our highly experienced condemnation attorneys are focused on helping landowners in and around Ohio defend their property rights in an eminent domain case. The legal process can be confusing though we will lead you through every step of the way. Please do not hesitate to call us at 888-318-3761 for a free consultation today.



Illinois Landowners Concerned About Eminent Domain

With the recent enactment of the
Clean Power Plan,1 it has become increasingly important for states to take steps to cut down on carbon pollution and find new ways to use clean energy on a widespread basis. Representatives in Illinois are trying to bring clean electricity to an estimated 1.6 million residences through the Grain Belt Express Line2 sponsored by Clean Line Energy. The project would deliver wind-powered energy starting just south of Quincy, Illinois, across Clark County, and then would travel approximately two miles across the Indiana state border. Indiana has already approved the project though the state of Illinois is still pending a regulatory approval.

How the Grain Belt Express Line would affect homeowners

At a recent public meeting3 in Raymond, Illinois, nearby landowners gathered to voice their concerns and ask questions about how the wind power project would affect them. Seven other similar meetings were held in other towns that would be on the Grain Belt Express Line. In order for the project to succeed, Clean Line Energy would have to place towers on many different private properties, many of which are working farms.

Representatives from Clean Line Energy have stated they plan to pay landowners nearly $42 million over the course of 20 years for use of their land for tower placement and maintenance. However, many farm owners are concerned that the tower placement is going to interfere with the operations of their farm and, in turn, their livelihood. The company responded that they wish to respect farmland and prefer to conduct voluntary negotiations with landowners. However, if Illinois approves the project, and landowners that refuse to cooperate will likely face condemnation actions to obtain easements on their land.

Find out how an Illinois eminent domain lawyer can assist you today

Whether you have questions about the Grain Belt Express Line or any other project that involves the threat of eminent domain, you should not delay in discussing your situation with an experienced condemnation attorney at the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP. We are committed to representing the rights of landowners facing condemnation actions, so please call us today for a free consultation at 888-318-3761.



Illinois regulators OK Grain Belt Express power line


Grain Belt Express now has approval from three of four states for construction of the high-voltage transmission line that would carry wind-generated power from Kansas to Indiana.

Members of the Illinois Commerce Commission on Thursday approved the 206-mile central Illinois section of the power line from the Mississippi River near Quincy to the state line near Sullivan, Indiana. The power line would cross sections of Pike, Scott, Greene, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Shelby, Cumberland and Clark counties in Illinois.

On a 3-2 vote, commissioners required project developer Clean Line Energy Partners of Houston to complete financing for the project before construction could start and to get commission approval for any cost to Illinois ratepayers. Clean Line could not expand the project without commission approval and was ordered to take steps to minimize the effects of construction and the transmission line.

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

Eminent Domain Powers Can Be Abused


Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States1 limits the government's eminent domain powers to projects for “public use.” In recent years, since the 2005 Supreme Court decision of Kelo v. City of New London,2 the term “public use” has been more liberally interpreted as “for the good of the public.” In many situations, large commercial developments can bring in tax revenue, create, jobs, and otherwise stimulate the economy of a municipality and, therefore, many private developers have argued that using eminent domain to obtain property for their projects is appropriate and constitutional. This has led to a substantial amount of landowners in Indiana and throughout the U.S. to lose their homes and their property.

Opponents generally consider the use of condemnation for purely commercial gain to be an abuse of eminent domain powers. However, in Indiana, the government has the power to take private homes and small businesses to build sports stadiums, shopping malls, and industrial developments. If your home is threatened by a condemnation action for a commercial development, you should have an experienced eminent domain lawyer evaluate your case as soon as possible.

Perhaps one of the most notorious proponents of widespread eminent domain powers is Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Trump has admitted that he believes that tearing down homes for commercial developments is justified and his company has taken advantage of the opportunity to do so many times over the years. Once, he wanted to build a parking lot outside of his Atlantic City casino exclusively for limousines and he used eminent domain powers to take homes from an elderly widow and two other landowners3 who did not voluntarily sell their properties. The owners were compensated for only a fraction of what they paid for their land.

Contact an Indiana condemnation attorney for a free consultation today

With individuals in the public touting the value of eminent domain, it becomes even more important to ensure that unlawful condemnation cases are challenged. An experienced condemnation lawyer can advise you of your rights and options and help ensure you receive just compensation if your land is taken. Please call the law office of Sever Storey, LLP at 888-318-3761 today.




New Law Proposed To Limit Eminent Domain Powers In The U.S.


eminent-domain-lawThe Fifth Amendment of the United States requires that any taking of private property under eminent domain powers be for “public use.” Over the years, the interpretation of public use has been expanded significantly by the courts, allowing the government to claim property for private commercial developments as long as the project will promote economic development in the area. Economic development can include increasing tax revenue, creating employment, or simply improving the general economic state of the area. Through this interpretation, many landowners have seen had their homes taken from them and torn down to make way for large shopping centers or other commercial enterprises.

Now, however, a law has been proposed in U.S. Congress by House Representative Jim Sensenbrenner to prohibit the government from taking private property simply for economic development purposes. The Private Property Rights Protection Act (PPRPA) would allow landowners affected by such takings a cause of action in court against the government and would render local or state governments ineligible for federal money for a period of time if they violate the PPRPA.

Many eminent domain takings would still be lawful, however, including for the following:

  • Roads and highways
  • Airports and military bases
  • Hospitals
  • Railroads
  • Utility company projects
  • Taking over abandoned property

Many versions of this bill have been proposed and have failed since the court case2 allowing takings for “economic development” was decided in 2005, and it is yet to be seen whether the new version of the bill will be successful.

Contact an experienced eminent domain attorney for a free consultation

The laws regarding property ownership and eminent domain are constantly changing and evolving. At the law office of Sever Storey, LLP, our condemnation lawyers stay apprised of any changes in any laws related to eminent domain and the rights of landowners. We are familiar with court decisions and legal proposals so that we can best serve every single client we have that is facing an eminent domain taking. We provide the highest quality for representation in condemnation cases, so please call us today at 888-318-3761 for help.



Can I Afford an Attorney for My Condemnation Case?


attorney-feesWhen the government informs you that it wants to take your valuable land from you due to a construction project, you may likely feel helpless. After all, the government can understandably seem like a formidable adversary in a legal conflict. Experienced eminent domain attorneys have negotiated with and faced off against the government many times and do not shy away from fully protecting the rights of landowners. Unfortunately, too many property owners never seek legal assistance because they believe they will not be able to pay for a lawyer's services.

Contingency fee arrangements

At Sever Storey, LLP, we want to make it possible for anyone facing an eminent domain taking1 to have the legal representation they deserve. Therefore, when negotiating just compensation for you, we will handle your case on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that you do not pay us any fees unless we are able to add value to your case. If we do add value to your compensation, we will only take a predetermined percentage—33 percent—of the value added, not of your entire settlement. For example:

  • The government offers you $150,000 for your property.
  • We negotiate and you are able to obtain $300,000 for your property.
  • Our work and negotiations added $150,000 to your case.
  • We receive 33 percent of the added value.
  • You take home $250,000.

Under this arrangement, you would pay nothing up front and still gain an extra $100,000 on top of the government's original offer. If we do not increase the government's offer, we do not get paid anything.

Do not hesitate to contact one of our eminent domain lawyers today

Too many property owners do not seek out the legal assistance they may need in an eminent domain action because they assume they will not be able to afford an attorney. Paying an attorney and almost simultaneously losing your property may seem overwhelming, however, at the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP, we strive to make it possible for you to have your legal rights protected throughout your condemnation case. We always work for the best possible results for you, so please call us today at 888-318-3761 for a free, no-obligation consultation.



Do You Have to Allow Pipeline Surveyors Onto Your Property?


Large scale pipeline projects can affect hundreds of landowners over large distances. The affected landowners should be aware of their legal rights throughout the duration of the project. One common question that arises is whether a surveyor from the gas company is allowed onto your property to survey the intended pipeline route.

This issue has been particularly at issue as of late due to headlines over the past several months. First, in the spring, a Georgia Sheriff's Department charged three gas company surveyors with criminal trespass1 after they traveled deep into a farm property. The surveyors and gas company reportedly knew that they did not have the landowner's permission to be on the property. Additionally, legal complications are arising in the large-scale Nexus Gas Transmission project as 91 landowners are refusing to allow surveyors to enter their land. In response, Nexus has filed legal action2 against all of these landowners trying to get a court order to allow the surveyors onto the properties.

While laws of every state can vary, the following is some basic information that every property owner should know in regard to surveyors:

  • Gas line surveyors may not enter your land without permission unless they fulfill legal requirements set by state law.
  • If the gas company properly notifies you under the law, they may be able to enter to complete certain tasks in some states even if you refuse.
  • If surveyors damage your land, you are likely entitled to compensation.
  • If surveyors do not follow the law and enter your land without permission, they may face civil and criminal action.

Contact a qualified condemnation attorney if you believe your rights have been violated

While the government does have certain powers when it comes to projects for public use, no landowner should be subjected to random trespassers on their property. At the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP, our eminent domain lawyers understand all of the relevant laws and requirements involved in government projects and we strive to protect the rights of property owners against unlawful actions such as trespass. Please call our office today at 888-318-3761 to find out how we can assist you.



Eminent domain sought for one-third of Iowa land on Bakken pipeline


Map-of-Pipeline-route-IAFREMONT — Bill Alexander gets emotional walking out to the farm fields where the proposed 1,134-mile, 30-inch-in-diameter Bakken crude oil pipeline would run down the middle of the property.

Alexander fears oil spills, long-term damage to nutrient-rich soil and turning his back on the livelihood that’s supported four generations of his wife Pam’s family, future generations and their retirement.

“People say the pipeline will create jobs,” said Pam Alexander. “This land has been giving people jobs already, but that doesn’t seem to matter.”

The Alexanders said they rejected easement bids that scaled from $5,900 an acre to $16,000. They won’t negotiate. They aren’t selling.

But they might not have a choice.

Resistance has been vocal to the pipeline that would cross 343 miles through 18 Iowa counties — much of it fertile farm ground — but official filings suggest most landowners already are on board.

On Thursday, protesters presented 1,000 new letters to state regulators from landowners, environmentalists, personal property activists and others. Earlier in the week, the Sierra Club filed critical testimony from climate change experts at Iowa State University, the State Archaeologist and water and land scholars.

Letters of opposition outnumber support four-to-one. And supporters, such as trade unions and business groups, are questioned for being from out of state or having a financial gain in the estimated $3.78 billion project, including $1.1 billion in Iowa.

Two-thirds of landowners signed

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Baaken Oil Pipeline 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

Eminent Domain Focus of Pipeline Protest



Thursday, more than 80 protesters from a dozen Iowa groups opposed to the Bakken oil pipeline project protested outside the Iowa Utilities Board’s office. Energy Transfer Partners of Texas is proposing a pipeline that crosses North and South Dakota and Iowa ending up in Illinois. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Organizer Nathan Malachowski says the Utilities Board is rushing the process.

Malachowski says the final public hearing concerning the pipeline is set for November 12. He says most of the concerns ICCI and other groups opposed to the project have center around eminent domain and safety.

Another major concern is there are no real environmental protections in Iowa state law for a spill.

ICCI brought a box of more than 1000 objections to the Utilities Board. The group is also providing their objections to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which has to sign off on the project.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Baaken Oil Pipeline 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

Photo:  Kremer, K (photographer). (2015). Retrieved From:

PennEast Pipeline: Eminent domain can be used if agreement not reached


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If PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC cannot reach an agreement with landowners and federal regulators approve the $1 billion project, the company says it can use eminent domain to acquire the land.

PennEast made the announcement in a media packet dated Oct. 9 titled, "Landowner Bill of Rights." Eminent domain is the power to take private property for use in a public project in return for compensation.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, previously said an estimated two-thirds or 70 percent of the people along the pipeline route in New Jersey have said 'no' to the pipeline and won't let PennEast on their land for surveying.

PennEast in the packet says if the company needs to use eminent domain, it likely will seek to acquire an easement and under its conditions, the landowner would retain ownership of the property. However, if the company needs land to build a compressor station, it will seek to purchase the property outright by deed and PennEast would have ownership.

Plans for the PennEast pipeline project include constructing the natural gas pipeline from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to Mercer County, New Jersey.

The 36-inch pipeline is proposed to transport enough natural gas from Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale region to serve 4.7 million homes, according to the company's website.

PennEast has a projected in-service date of November 2017.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the PennEast Pipeline 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

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.



NEXUS Pipeline Seeking Permission to Survey

Landowners in the path of the proposed NEXUS Gas Transmission Line have recently received letters requesting permission to survey their land in order to determine an exact route for the pipeline. The survey work is likely to begin in September.

The NEXUS pipeline is not scheduled to be in...