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In Part I of this article, we explored the meaning of some common terms you may hear during the eminent domain process. In Part II, we will explain a few more terms with which you should be familiar if any part of your property is at risk of being condemned by the government.
Public Purpose: In order for a taking of real property interests to be lawful under the United States Constitution, the taking must be for the good of the public. This has been interpreted to include many different types of projects: highways, schools, parks, utilities, and even pipelines or commercial developments in some situations. If there is no valid public purpose, a property owner can defend against the entire taking.
Just Compensation: Another constitutional requirement is that the property owner receives compensation for his or her losses due to eminent domain. This can include the fair market value of the property considering its highest and best use, relocation benefits, and other damages.
Appraisal: An appraisal is an assessment of the value of the property taken to determine what constitutes just compensation. The agency taking the property will often present one appraisal, and a property owner can counter any offer with his or her own independent appraisal from a different professional.
Partial Taking: Not every property owner loses his or her entire parcel of land in a condemnation action. In some cases, only part of the property is needed for the project, and the government cannot take more land than necessary. In these situations, part of your land may be taken while you retain ownership of the rest or an easement is granted. You still are required to be compensated for the land or value lost.
Remainder: This is the land you keep after a partial taking, and this land can also lose value because of the taking. If a partial taking renders a piece of land unusable because of its odd shape or size, it is called an uneconomic remainder.
There are many complex terms and laws involved in every eminent domain case. If you believe your property may be vulnerable to eminent domain, please contact our eminent domain attorneys for help immediately. Call Sever Storey for a free consultation at 888-318-3761 today.
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