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When most people think of the concept of “eminent domain,” they may think of a manipulative government and injustice to landowners. However, the condemnation of property does not always bring negative results. In some situations, the public benefits from eminent domain, landowners can negotiate for just compensation, and everyone moves forward. In other situations, government officials may tout eminent domain as a good cause when it still stands to disrupt the lives of many people.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced his intention to acquire numerous apartment buildings in the Bronx and elsewhere throughout the city and to use eminent domain powers if needed. Many of the buildings are run-down and currently house homeless people with rent paid by taxpayers, which helps New York City meet its shelter mandate. The mayor wants to convert 25 to 30 of these so-called “cluster sites” into nonprofit rent-stabilized units, hopefully allowing many of the homeless to remain in their apartments and support themselves.
Helping the homeless is always a noble prospect, but what about the current owners of the buildings? They still own the properties in question and these buildings can bring a significant source of income. De Blasio claimed the city intended to engage in “good faith” negotiations with the building owners to work out the sale of the properties outside of court. If the landlords refuse to sell or cannot agree on a price, the mayor stated he would use the “powerful tool” of condemnation to take the buildings, since helping the city’s homeless constitutes a public purpose.
While some eminent domain cases may result in positive impacts on a community, landowners lose a lot if the government condemns their land. The most important part of any eminent domain action is ensuring that property owners receive just compensation for their land, as per their constitutional right. The government cannot deprive an owner of just compensation, whatever public benefit comes from the condemnation.
In the New York situation, the building owners should retain legal representation. An attorney who handles condemnation cases can help ensure that they receive fair prices for their properties—with or without an eminent domain lawsuit.
The attorneys at Sever Storey will keep an eye on whether Mayor de Blasio will need to exercise governmental power for the endeavor, and how the situation progresses.
If you believe the government is targeting your property for a condemnation action, do not wait to consult with an experienced eminent domain law firm. The firm of Sever Storey has offices in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and North Carolina, and serves clients across the United States. To discuss an offer to purchase your land or a condemnation lawsuit, please call (888) 318-3761 or contact us online today.
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