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WTHI-TV is reporting that the Illinois Supreme Court has overturned a ruling that halted construction of a massive power line through eastern Illinois. The ruling covers 35 Edgar County eminent domain actions that Ameren Transmission Company, a regional power utility, initiated. The actions seek to obtain land to construct a 375-mile power line across Illinois.
The decision invalidated a circuit court’s ruling that the eminent domain procedure initiated by Ameren denied landowners due process. According to Justice Robert Thomas’s opinion, the circuit court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. The Supreme Court remanded the case for further proceedings.
You can read the Supreme Court’s entire opinion here.
For many people new to the idea of eminent domain, the idea that the government or a utility company can force you to sell your land is contrary to the idea of property ownership. It is legal, however, and the unfortunate reality for many landowners is that the courts uphold most attempted exercises of eminent domain.
The law restricts the power of governments and their designees, however—they can only exercise eminent domain for a public purpose, and the condemning authority (the party exercising eminent domain) must provide the landowner with just compensation for the property. Because courts have expansively defined public purpose, in most eminent domain cases, the only issue in dispute is whether the landowner is receiving just compensation for the property.
The most effective way for landowners to make sure they get the compensation they deserve for their properties is to retain an attorney to represent them in negotiations. Not surprisingly, utility companies like Ameren and other condemning authorities try to pay as little as possible to obtain the land they need for their projects. Parties using eminent domain to obtain land are usually government bodies or businesses that understand how the law works, putting individual landowners at a distinct disadvantage.
Fortunately, when you retain an eminent domain lawyer to represent you, you will even the playing field. An attorney familiar with eminent domain law can establish the real value of your property through evidence and demand that you obtain just compensation for your land. In the event that the party seeking your property does not make a reasonable settlement offer, an attorney can establish the value of your land in court.
When someone tells you that you’re going to have to sell your land even if you don’t want to, it’s easy to feel helpless and confused. Fortunately, you can find help. The eminent domain lawyers of Sever Storey are dedicated to helping landowners get the full value of their properties and are ready to fight illegal eminent domain actions when appropriate. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call Sever Storey today at (888) 318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.
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