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When you think of an eminent domain case, you may think of the government marching in a stealing your land right from under you and against your will. While some eminent domain actions are contentious, some cases are more focused on negotiating an agreement that works for everyone involved. A current case in Macon County, Illinois demonstrates the different ways government officials can approach an eminent domain situation.
Macon County planned construction of a beltway that officials claim will have a “major effect on the local economy,” though the project requires 8.3 acres of private land owned by a married couple. In January, the county offered $17,000 per acre – an offer which the landowners declined. After reportedly going back and forth with still no agreed-upon price, the county turned to the state legislature.
The legislature voted to approve the use of eminent domain to take the land if needed and, as of the time of this writing, it is expected the Governor would also sign off on the matter. It would allow Macon County one year to use eminent domain to force a sale of the land.
While officials in Macon County could turn straight to a condemnation action once the bill is signed, they have stated that they plan to first continue negotiations with the landowners as they claim they are “closer” to an agreement. This is an example of the government wanting to reach a mutually beneficial agreement before forcibly taking private land.
It is important for landowners to realize that even if government officials seem to have your best interests in mind that their initial offer – and possibly several counteroffers – may still be much less than you deserve for your land. Even if you are open to the idea of selling your land, you should always have an experienced eminent domain lawyer review any offers of compensation before you agree to them. An attorney can then represent you in negotiations to ensure you receive a favorable deal.
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