Eminent Domain Attorney USFlash back to high school history class: Do you remember the U.S. Constitution’s Takings Clause? We hear a lot about “Pleading the Fifth” (a colloquial term for refusing to answer questions that might self-incriminate a criminal suspect). But also nestled in the Fifth Amendment’s last clause is the government’s potent power of eminent domain: “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Eminent domain is the government power to take private property for public use.

Condemnation is the formal process by which government exercises eminent domain authority.

A Common Scenario

Let’s say you’re a homeowner fronting a busy two-lane street. There’s lots of traffic, a few too many accidents, and gridlock during rush hour. After several studies and public meetings, your local highway department develops a good solution, which includes (among other needed improvements) adding another lane for travel. To do that, the governmental authority needs about 30 feet of land from the abutting landowners (for paving, burying utility lines, landscaping).

That example is deceptively simple. Challenges arise, however, as soon as the government agency names its price for the subject property.

What Is Condemnation About?

  • Governments (federal, state, local) have the power to condemn property. In many cases, governments delegate that power to local agencies and authorities. For example, utility companies and transportation departments rely heavily on condemnation for their projects.
  • Governments may not use condemnation in arbitrary ways, nor for purely private purposes.
  • Projects involving eminent domain are usually long-range, and property owners almost always receive sufficient advance notice.
  • The process isn’t necessarily adversarial. At the outset, the authority/agency will try to negotiate a fair price with each homeowner.
  • Valuing the seized property can prove difficult, influenced by many factors (including how the adverse effects on the remaining property).
  • A valuation expert, or appraiser, often needs to weigh in with a fair price for the property.
  • If the parties cannot agree on price, the government cannot risk stalling the project. To keep momentum, the government will then take formal steps to initiate condemnation proceedings, which often starts with filing a notice of taking or notice of condemnation. That way, the Government gets to take the property, leaving the only remaining issue the amount of compensation (that is, valuation is determined later).
  • If the parties cannot resolve their price disagreements, a court will ultimately decide the value.

If you have a condemnation case, you need to rely on an experienced eminent domain lawyer to help you. Otherwise, you may lose valuable rights.

Call an Experienced Condemnation Attorney Today for Help

Construction projects are all around us. Did you learn about a planned project in your neighborhood? Do you have an eminent domain case?

With a zealous eminent domain lawyer, you can ensure fair treatment if your local government or highway authority is planning a project that will affect you. If you’re a homeowner facing condemnation, you need to hire the right counsel. You should receive fair market value for your property.

Don’t accept any offers or sign any agreements without first talking with us. Trust the experienced homeowner professionals at Sever Storey. Call us right away at (888) 318-3761, or contact us confidentially. We have a nationwide team of landowner attorneys on your side.