Have you ever visited an old neighborhood or home you haven’t been to in several years only to find it replaced by a road, bridge or shopping mall? If you have, then you’ve witnessed the effects of eminent domain. Backed by the power of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, this clause states that governments can take private property after paying the landowner the market value for the land and putting it to public use. The eminent domain lawyers of Fryer & Hansen, PLLC can help you navigate the tricky process of ensuring a fair market value for your property.
What is Eminent Domain?
When the government comes calling with an eminent domain notice, this means that you’re sitting on property that can be used for the “greater good.” You might be asking yourself what eminent domain is. This clause can be used to build a bridge to help alleviate traffic and emergency routes or a school or mall that will create jobs. Anything that is considered a benefit to the community can fall under the eminent domain banner.
What is the “Greater Good”?
Over the last few years, there has been a considerable amount of debate on what is considered good for the public. Using eminent domain for building such structures as schools or roads has paved the way for real estate developers to build malls and condominiums. The law has been defined for even more wide-reaching definitions of what public use is, and as a homeowner, you should know your rights and the abuses these powers can bring.
What Does the Fifth Amendment Say?
The Fifth Amendment says that any private or public property can be taken from its owners for public use with just compensation being granted to the owner. This also means that private property can’t be taken for public use without the consent of the landowner, and said owner also has the right to be fairly compensated. Oftentimes, however, landowners can be offered less-than-fair amounts of compensation. In these cases, legal assistance may be needed.
The Legal Process
The process of eminent domain is called “condemnation”. Once a local government or city council has decided that a piece of land is needed for a project that will benefit the local community, it will contact the owner to negotiate a selling price. From here, one of three things can happen:
- If a property owner agrees to an offered price, then the process is pretty straightforward. The government issues payment and the home or landowner gives up the deed for the property. This is the simplest but least common transaction since many homeowners are usually resistant to selling.
- There are times when an owner might agree to a sale but not the price the government is willing to offer. In this situation, both parties will agree to a hearing of what a “fair value” is.
- Other times, an owner will refuse to sell entirely. From here, a government will file a court action and usually post a public notice for a hearing. At the hearing, the government must prove how the community will benefit from the land seizure and that it has tried to negotiate with the owner. If the government wins the court action, then the homeowner must leave, but both sides are still allowed to appeal the decision.
Project SH 68 in Donna and Edinburg
Currently, there is a project that will surely give many eminent domain notices to residents of the Rio Grande Valley. Project SH 68 is a plan for a four-lane rural highway with mainlines and overpasses in Hidalgo County. The project will grace parts of Donna and the northern region of Edinburg. The project’s aim is to help alleviate local traffic for the growing population of the area.
The Right Representation
We encourage you to contact us if you’ve received an eminent domain notice. We know this field can be confusing and fast-paced, but it’s important that you be informed and properly represented to ensure receiving the compensation you deserve.