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The Fifth Amendment allows the government to take private lands so long as the purpose is for “public use” and the landowner is justly compensated for the taking. A common public use project that requires takings involves roadways and highways. Cities and states are responsible for building, maintaining, and repairing roads, and transportation departments are constantly trying to improve roads for better traffic flow and to increase safety.
Roads take up a lot of space. Buildings are constructed around the roads that existed at the time of construction and, if any roads need redirection, alteration, or expansion, both homes and businesses are probably in the way. In such situations, the government may need to invoke its eminent domain powers and condemn the land needed for the project.
Some examples of road projects that may require eminent domain include:
New road construction
Construction of railroad or light rail tracks
Installing utilities around new roadways
A transportation department’s eminent domain powers, however, are not unrestricted. Two primary requirements for takings due to road projects:
The government can only take as much land as it needs for the project. If it only needs part of the land, it cannot claim your whole property. In addition, if the government only needs part of your land for temporary construction purposes, such as to store equipment, it should get a construction easement instead of seeking a permanent taking of your land.
The government must pay you just compensation for the value of the land lost, the use of part of your land, and for certain qualifying financial losses you incur due to the taking. The government may make you an offer, but this initial offer is generally less than you truly deserve. A skilled condemnation attorney can assess the amount you deserve and negotiate on your behalf.
One family in Indiana is currently fighting to get a just amount of money for land taken due to a road widening project. While the project already began, a court will hear arguments and determine what will constitute just compensation in this case. Even if you believe that a payment offer is sufficient, it can be difficult to understand the extent of all of your losses that may stem from a condemnation of all or part of your property. It is best to have a law firm on your side to protect your rights.
If you receive notice that your land may be wanted by the government or a company for any reason, your first call should be to discuss your rights and options with an experienced condemnation attorney. At the law office of Sever Storey, we focus on protecting the rights of landowners and ensuring they receive the most favorable results possible in eminent domain cases. Contact our office at (888) 318-3761 for more information.
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