Anyone familiar with President Donald Trump’s history as a real estate developer knows that he does not shy away from the concept of eminent domain. Once he became president, his plans to build a border wall would require extensive eminent domain actions, and reports indicated that the administration had quietly begun the process of seizing private property near the U.S./Mexico border. Now, with documents from Trump’s infrastructure plan leaked, it seems he would like to use —a high-speed underground cross-country train.
The rail lines for this train would run 70 feet below ground, built under many different pieces of private property. In addition, to get to the tunnels, the project would need access to surface-level ports at regular intervals. The plan indicates the intention to use eminent domain where necessary to acquire the rights below ground and for the ports.
Trump’s infrastructure plan also purports that it will cost virtually nothing. However, acquiring land rights through eminent domain does have a cost—and it could prove substantial. The Constitution of the United States gives the government the right to take private land on two specific conditions:
For example, if a city needed an entire plot of land to build a new school, it would need to determine the fair market value of that piece of land—which is a complex calculation—and compensate the displaced landowners accordingly.
Now, when it comes to tunneling out the train line so far underground, the government will still need to gain the rights to use that property. Property owners also have ownership of the air above them (to a certain height) and under the ground below them. Some people sell or retain mineral rights under land owned by others.
Therefore, the government will need to gain property interests in the underground part of all of these private lands, as well as the surface land on which to build the ports. How to determine the fair market value of land 70 feet below the surface remains a mystery, but there is one sure thing—it will not be free to obtain all of those property rights for the tunnels. In fact, the law requires paying compensation to private property owners should the project actually begin.
The law office of Sever Storey is ready and willing to protect the rights of homeowners and ensure they receive just compensation for giving up all or parts of their properties—even beneath the surface. We keep an eye on major upcoming projects and prepare ourselves to assist any homeowners who would like to learn more about their rights and options in the face of eminent domain. We have offices in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and North Carolina, and we help landowners nationwide. If you are concerned about the possible condemnation of your land, call our office at (888) 318-3761 or contact us online today.
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Before going alone against the State let us give you our opinion. It is our pledge that we will provide a free case review for any individual or business facing eminent domain or condemnation. Contact us now at 888-318-3761