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For many people, the idea that the idea that the government can put you out of your home goes against everything they know about property ownership, but that’s precisely what might happen to several residents of Yorktown, Indiana. According to reporting by RTV 6 News, the town proposed a downtown redevelopment plan in 2016 that involved 28 parcels of land and 22 homes. Proponents of the plan believe that an initial $12 million investment will return $48 million.
Some homeowners affected by the plan have thrown a wrench in it, however. They are refusing to sell, forcing the town to take them to court in an attempt to obtain their property through eminent domain.
Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property from individuals and companies. When the government exercises this power, it is known as a condemnation action. The government may only take private property for a public purpose, and the government must provide the landowner with just compensation for the property.
In most cases, the public purpose requirement is easy to satisfy. Courts have long had an expansive view of exactly what a “public purpose” is—clearly, things like school, hospitals, roadways, and parks benefit the public, but, surprisingly to some, so does economic development. In fact, in Kelo v. New London, the United States Supreme Court upheld the transfer of private property to a private developer as part of an economic development plan.
What this means in practical terms is that most disputes in eminent domain cases have to do with the amount of compensation the condemning authority will provide the landowner. There are many different ways to determine the value of a given parcel of land, and the government’s initial offer is often less than the amount the landowner thinks the land is worth.
Fortunately, landowners have help available. Even if you are willing to sell and do not plan to challenge the government’s exercise of eminent domain, retain a lawyer. In many cases, an attorney can significantly increase the amount of money you receive for your property. Best of all, there is no financial risk involved in retaining a lawyer from Sever Storey, as we will only collect a percentage of the amount we obtain in excess of the initial offer.
If you received notice that an eminent domain action may affect your property, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. At Sever Story, our lawyers have more than 25 years of combined experience and have helped hundreds of landowners obtain just compensation for their properties. To schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer, call our office today at (888) 318-3761 or contact us online.
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