Eminent domain is the power of the government to take a person’s piece of land or property for a public purpose. This power can be exercised by state, federal or local governments and by private companies who are looking to build railroads, for example. Usually, some of the most common reasons properties are taken through the eminent domain process are to build parks, drainage lines, roads and public facilities.
Many times when the power of eminent domain is exercised, it can take an emotional toll on property owners. What should a homeowner do if he/she receives an eminent domain notice?
Can it be Stopped?
When property has been chosen for a highway, mall or other construction purpose that falls under the “public good” criteria, the owners will be formally notified. The factor that pops into everyone’s head is if the process can be stopped. Sadly, many times it can’t. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the power of eminent domain is expansive under the Fifth Amendment, simply because the scope of “public purpose” is large.
Private parties are authorized to take property only for the good of the public and for something that results in economic development of surrounding areas. So, the Supreme Court says that your private property can be sold to a private company just as long as said company proves that the project will be beneficial to the public under their ownership versus yours.
A Fair Market Value
Even if a private company or government has the right to take your property, they must offer the property owner “just compensation”. This is defined as “fair market value”, or what the sellers would receive on the open market if they were voluntarily selling it themselves.
After an appraiser has determined the value of the land, a company or government will make an offer for purchasing based on these findings. Don’t be surprised if the offer is lower than what you thought your property was worth. While many times the offer being presented is legitimate, get a second opinion just in case. Remember that you can negotiate the value just like you would with any other potential buyer.
Don’t Want to Sell?
When the best amount of “compensation” has been offered and an owner is still not content with selling, a lawsuit can be filed. This is where we come in. We’ll do our best to evaluate your land’s purpose for the project and if you’ve been offered less than what’s owed. We work with many other professionals to reach solid conclusions for our cases, and you’ll be treated fairly and honestly.
We’re Here to Help
Call our eminent domain lawyers in McAllen. We’re experienced in this legal area and have a vast knowledge of your legal rights and how to apply them to your case for your satisfaction. We’ll do our best to identify all potential damages and help you negotiate a price that you’re comfortable with.