Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use. The process involves condemnation of your property, appraisal of its value, an offer to purchase it, and negotiation for a fair price for its sale. If you aren’t satisfied with the government’s offer or if you believe your property was improperly designated for public use, you have several legal remedies available.
Challenging Public Use
Public use traditionally refers to the development of property for streets, airports, dams, reservoirs, schools, hospitals, parks and other development designed to benefit the community as a whole. In some cases, private companies can gain easements through the eminent domain doctrine to perform functions such as laying and maintaining gas, water, telephone or power lines, and since a 2005 Supreme Court ruling, even private economic development designed to grow tax revenues has sometimes been considered a public purpose. If the planned use of your property doesn’t fall into one of these categories, the government may be barred from using eminent domain.
Increasing Fair Market Value
As you may be aware from your property tax assessment, the government’s valuation of your home may not always be what you could sell it for on the open market. If the government makes a low offer, we use a combination of alternative appraisals and negotiations to attempt to increase the offer to an amount that reflects the property’s true value.
Receiving Just Compensation
The Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution prohibit the government’s taking of private property without payment of just compensation to the owner. Fair market value of the property is usually the basis of the government’s offer. In some cases, other vital factors, such as a business’s good will or diminished value, may justify a price higher than the property value.
To learn more about how the Wilkinson County law firm of Boone, Scott & Boone can protect your rights in an eminent domain case, contact us today.