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Understanding Eminent Domain

Understanding Eminent Domain

A condemnation action, also known as “eminent domain” or “land condemnation,” is the process by which the local, state, or federal government takes ownership of private property for public use.

Governments use their power of eminent domain for the construction of greenways, parks, highway widening or other road continuation projects, public transportation projects, water drainage projects, or the installation of public utilities like new electrical or plumbing lines.  The power is also used to construct public-service properties like libraries, police stations, or new schools.

How Condemnation Proceedings Work

When a property owner receives notice that the government wants to ‘take’ their property, they might feel angry, confused, and irritated.  The owner may feel as if they have no other options.  In fact, the government can take private property even if the owner does not want to sell it.  There are a number of prongs however, that the government must satisfy before it can “take” private property.

To exercise its power lawfully, the local, state, or federal government must show that taking the property acquired is for a “public use,” and that the taking is “necessary.”  For example, if the government seeks to widen a road near your home and they need 300 feet of your property to do it, then the government does not need to take 400 feet.  The government is also required to pay the property owner “just compensation” for the property taken, based on the property’s fair market value.

Governments assert the eminent domain law through “condemnation actions.”  These actions are filed in the county where the property is located.  The filing is normally accompanied by documentation, which lays out the public project the government wishes to use the property for and includes a detailed appraisal of the property the government seeks to take.

Eminent Domain in Charlotte, NC.

Most recently, the City of Charlotte has used its eminent domain power for the build of greenways and extensions of the light rail.  In fact, the city of Charlotte is currently working on a full extension of the light rail called the 2030 Transit Corridor System Plan.  If successful, it will require the government to use its eminent domain power to take private property throughout the Charlotte area.  You can see the plans at the following link:  https://charlottenc.gov/cats/transit-planning/2030-plan/Pages/default.aspx

If you have recently discovered that the government wants to take your property under eminent domain, contact Weaver, Bennett & Bland, P.A. to find out if our law firm can help.  We may be able to help either save your land or get the full compensation that you deserve for your property.

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