Condemnation is the procedure prescribed by law for exercising the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain gives the government and other public condemners the means the power to take private lands against the will of the owner upon the payment of just compensation for the right, title and interest in the property. With stimulus money coming into the region for road work and bridge improvements, many landowners are receiving initial notifications that their land is to be condemned.
Land condemnations are most common for the construction or widening of highways, road improvements, drainage systems or sewer lines, public parks, etc. Private businesses like Energy United, Piedmont Natural Gas Company or Plantation Pipeline Company can also condemn for the purpose of constructing a railroad, electric power line, public water supplies, etc.
Normally the landowners are contacted to see if the property can be purchased through negotiation. If a settlement cannot be reached, then the Department of Transportation or the county or gas line can then file a proceeding in Court to condemn the property.
An attorney knowledgeable in condemnation and eminent domain can assist in the negotiations to ensure the landowner receives an equitable settlement. It is important to get professionals involved as soon as you can, and many attorneys are willing to agree to represent the landowner on a contingent fee of a certain percentage of anything the landowner receives over and beyond what the condemner first offered to pay the landowner. Watch this video with attorney Bradley Hunt to learn about just compensation:
While the various agencies have the right to condemn, don’t take the first appraisal as their “final offer.” Consult with an attorney concerning your options and recommended course of action to ensure that you are properly compensated for the property taken and your rights protected.