Eminent domain is the term for the state or federal government to take private property or land and claim it for public use. These agencies might offer payment if you own property deemed necessary for public use such as to expand roads, build a school, or run sewer lines. While government agencies (or private developers whose projects have been approved as economically beneficial for the area) have to offer compensation for your property, they often try to get property owners to accept amounts far less than what the property is worth.
The “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution lays out the federal terms of this process. Similarly, the Fourteenth Amendment grants eminent domain rights to state and local governments, but limits government power. In either case, the government must appropriately compensate the private property holder.
Public Use Projects in Eminent Domain Cases
The government can only claim eminent domain when the land is necessary for public use. This includes:
- Infrastructure construction, such as roads or bridges
- Government buildings, like a post office or school
- Expansion of a park or creating a federally protected wildlife area
Government agencies may also act on behalf of private companies, such as in the case of purchasing blighted property for redevelopment.
Land condemnation is the actual process of taking the private property and compensating the property owner. An eminent domain attorney represents the property owner to ensure he or she receives a fair market value.
Eminent Domain Attorneys in Raleigh, N.C.
There may be no way to stop the eminent domain process once it starts, but property owners still have rights. Having legal representation ensures you understand every step of the process, whether there is an easement on the land or other issues that may affect your property rights.
An eminent domain attorney looks after your best interests and prevents you from feeling intimidated or overwhelmed during the process. While the state appraiser acts on the agency’s behalf, we’re working on yours so you get the best deal possible.
After you receive a notice of eminent domain, it’s important to connect with an attorney because there are actions you may inadvertently take that could damage your case. These include:
- Filing amended property tax returns or other documents to indicate a lower property value.
- Signing documents, such as a right of access, without your attorney reviewing them.
- Thinking you don’t have rights or that it’s not worth fighting your case.
If you feel as if you have been appropriated against by the law or your property has been inadequately assessed and you have not been compensated correctly, Maginnis Howard’s eminent domain attorneys would like to speak with you. You can contact our firm by phone at 919.526.0450 or through our contact page.