Sever | Storey Blog

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.




How Long Does an Eminent Domain Case Last?

A common question we receive is regarding the time frame of a typical eminent domain1 case. While every case is different and the procedural laws vary from state to state, the following is some basic information regarding the time line of a condemnation action from the landowner's point of view.

Presentation of a project

Eminent domain cases all begin with a project planned by the government, utility company, or even a private developer in some cases. The planner must present the the project to the public, including landowners that may be affected by the project. This presentation generally includes information on the time frame within which funding and construction will occur.

Notification to the property owner

The next step is for the condemning party to notify the landowners of the appraiser that will determine the value of the property and when the appraisal will take place. In many cases, the property owner may be requested to be present for the appraisal.

Initial offer

A couple of months after the appraisal, the government makes an offer to the landowner. While this offer is supposed to constitute “just compensation” for the property taking, the first offer is rarely adequate. For this reason, you should always have the offer reviewed by an experienced condemnation attorney to learn about your options.

If the offer is deemed to be fair, you can simply accept it and the case concludes. However, if you believe you deserve more compensation, your attorney can then begin negotiations with the government regarding the offer. You may have your own appraisal company estimate the value of your property to challenge the accuracy of the first appraisal. When you come to an agreement with the government in negotiations, your case will end.

Call an experienced condemnation attorney for assistance as soon as possible

There can be many different time lines for eminent domain cases. For instance, the case may last longer if you cannot reach an agreement over compensation or if you wish to challenge the condemnation action altogether. At the law firm of Sever Storey, our attorneys will provide the highest quality of eminent domain representation, so call today at 888-318-3761 for assistance.



How Does Eminent Domain Affect Farm Land?

When most people think of eminent domain, they likely think of cities claiming residential or commercial properties to build highways or shopping centers or simply due to urban blight.1 However, eminent domain actions occur in more rural areas, as well, since the government wants to increase the residential, commercial, or industrial opportunities in these areas. Unfortunately, much of the land in rural areas is owned by farmers who depend upon their land for their livelihood. If they lose their land, they lose much more than simply a home or a commercial building. Instead, they lose years of hard work building up their operations that likely cannot be recreated in another location.

The government rarely makes an offer of compensation to a farmer that is even remotely close to the true value the landowner deserves in exchange for the land. Any farm owner facing a condemnation action should be represented by an eminent domain attorney with specific knowledge in the appraisal of farm lands.

Even partial takings can be costly

Farmers tend to own acres and acres of land on which they may have several different fields or crops, pastures, orchards, cattle operations, among many other things that bring in income. When the government wants to claim farm land, often only a portion of the farmer's land is taken. The government may make a low offer based on the fact that the farmer is still retaining a large part of the land. However, even partial takings2 of farm land can be extremely costly to a landowner for several reasons, including the following:

  • Loss of planting room
  • Destruction of drain tile systems
  • Ruined terracing
  • Separating the land from the farm buildings
  • Separating fields
  • Cutting of crop rows
  • Adding new corners to fields
  • Separating feeding facilities from pastures

These are only some of the ways that a partial condemnation can affect the value of farm land.

Contact an experienced eminent domain attorney to discuss your case today

If you are a farmer or any other type of landowner facing total or partial condemnation, your first call should be to the law office of Sever Storey, LLP. Contact our experienced condemnation attorneys at 888-318-3761 today for help.




Negotiation in Eminent Domain Cases

Thousands of landowners face losing their properties in eminent domain actions on an annual basis throughout the United States. Too many owners believe they have no right but to surrender their land and accept the offer for compensation initially made by the government. It is, as they assume, one of the most powerful government in the world going up against a single property owner.

While the government does have extensive experience in condemnation cases to acquire lands for a variety of uses, the U.S. Constitution1 and eminent domain laws also protect certain rights of the property owner. Therefore, if those rights are not being upheld by the government's actions, you may fight to protect your rights and negotiate to receive a better result. Since you are negotiating with the government, however, it is imperative to have a skilled condemnation attorney on your side.

The extent of the taking

The government is not allowed to take more of your land than is necessary to complete a project. For example, if a utility company needs to lay pipe through your land and the government wants to claim the entire property to do so, an experienced attorney can argue that only a portion of your land is necessary to effectively lay the pipe. It may be the difference between you losing all of your land including your house or simply losing part of your yard. While this type of negotiation is not available in every case, one of our lawyers can identify whether it is an option for you.

Obtaining just compensation

The government is required to provide just compensation for any lands taken under the 5th Amendment.2 However, the overwhelming majority of initial offers made by the government are exceedingly low. An attorney can help you accurately appraise your land and negotiate with the government to make sure you receive full and fair compensation for all of your land. We can represent you in court if necessary.

Call a skilled eminent domain lawyer to find out how we can help you

At the law office of Sever Storey, we are committed to ensuring all landowners are properly protected in condemnation actions. Call our office at 888-318-3761 for assistance today.





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.



Illiana Expressway Will Have to Contend With Historic Properties

Story originally published in the Southtown Star.

As the Interstate 355 southern extension was being built about...


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