Eminent Domain refers to the government’s limited power to take away private land for public use. This right is granted to the government by the 5th Amendment of the Federal Constitution. But, the government must do several things first in order to validly exercise this power. For example, eminent domain is only valid so as long as the government has provided you with fair notice, meaning that you have adequate time to review the offer and seek legal advice. You must also be provided with the opportunity for a fair hearing. But what happens if you decide that you do not want to accept their offer at all? What are your options if you have received notice of eminent domain? Let’s discuss.
- You have the right to challenge
If you ever receive notice that the government plans to exercise its eminent domain power, the first step is to remember is that you have the right to challenge it. There are several reasons why someone might want to do this. For starters, the land could be your own home or farm that you have worked hard to build. In order for the exercise of the power to be valid, it must be because the government plans to use the land for “public use”—like building a highway. In exchange, the government must also provide “just compensation” for the land they are taking over. This means that you already have two solid ways to challenge their power and make sure they prove that the reasons for wanting your land are valid and that the price is fair.
- Get a second opinion of the government’s appraisal
As above, whenever the government exercises its eminent domain power, they have to pay the landowner “just compensation” for their property. This means that when they submit their offer, it should include an appraisal of what is the government has deemed the fair market value of your land. An important thing to make sure of on your end is that the offer is fair. One way to do this is to get a second opinion on the offer instead of just taking the government at face value. This way, if you choose not to challenge the government’s exercise of their power based on lack of public use, you can make a counteroffer that relies on your second opinion and negotiate.
- Initiate condemnation proceedings
Condemnation proceedings are the process by which a private landowner challenges the government’s exercise of its eminent domain power. The process itself is similar to when a case is heard in court, with both parties being able to present their case and be heard. Although it’s a good idea to consult with a legal professional every step of the way, it’s particularly important if you plan to officially challenge the government in a condemnation proceeding.
- Consult with Jack R. Sturgill, Esq. – Maryland’s Eminent Domain Lawyer
As we’ve said above, it’s your right to challenge the government’s exercise of its eminent domain power. Of course, the best way to go about this is to consult with an experienced eminent domain lawyer who can help determine the best options to win your case and advocate on your behalf. Jack R. Sturgill, known as Maryland’s Eminent Domain Lawyer, has the experience to help you achieve the most favorable result possible. He will work with you every step of the way. If you are facing an eminent domain case, please contact Jack today!