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Category: Articles

April 25th, 2016 — In Articles

Two Judges Approve Use of Eminent Domain for New Jersey Dunes

As we have previously discussed, beachfront property owners in New Jersey are currently in a battle with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection over the department’s efforts to condemn portions of their property for a beach-widening and dune-building project along the New Jersey shore. While the Department of Environmental Protection asserts that the project is necessary to protect the shore from future storms similar to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, the property owners counter that there are better alternatives available. They also assert – among other arguments – that the Department of Environmental Protection has refused to offer just compensation for its exercise of eminent domain.

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April 18th, 2016 — In Articles

Property Owners Entitled to Just Compensation for Intentional Flooding of Their Land

In some inverse condemnation cases (in which the government takes private property without properly exercising its power of eminent domain), the taking involves some sort of constructive use, such as the building of a road, sidewalk, utility infrastructure or park. These uses are most often intended to be permanent – and whether the taking involves a transfer of ownership or establishment of an easement or right-of-way, the private landowner loses some or all of his or her property rights for good. But, what happens when the government comes onto private property, temporarily floods it, and then leaves? Does this constitute a taking requiring payment of just compensation? The U.S. Supreme Court thought so 2012, and a California appellate court recently agreed.

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April 11th, 2016 — In Articles

The Government is on My Property. What are My Rights?

As a United States citizen, the U.S. Constitution, federal laws and the Constitution and laws of your state protect you against government intrusion upon your private property.  While the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes that government authorities may use the power of eminent domain to take private property, the Fifth Amendment limits the power of eminent domain by requiring that the taking of private property be for a public purpose and that just compensation is paid to the property owner.  Additionally, condemning agencies must follow specific procedures or steps when exercising the power of eminent domain.  While these procedures vary from state to state, there are some basic steps which we discussed in a previous post here (discussing the differences between eminent domain and inverse condemnation). What if the government simply takes your property? While this may sound far-fetched, if it has happened to you, you know all too well that government agencies do not always play by the rules. In this situation, private property owners can defend their rights through a type of legal action known as “inverse condemnation.”

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March 28th, 2016 — In Articles

Understanding the Tax Consequences of Condemnation

                      When a government agency or other entity with the power of eminent domain acquires or condemns private property, the private owner is entitled to “just compensation” for the value of the property taken. This compensation – or at least the majority of it – is essentially paid as the purchase price for the condemned property. Eminent domain involves the transfer of real estate title in exchange for the payment of compensation which the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) generally treats as an ordinary taxable sale of property.

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March 22nd, 2016 — In Articles

Eminent Domain vs. Inverse Condemnation: What’s the Difference?

Owners’ Counsel of America member-attorneys are dedicated to assisting private property owners defend their property rights when those rights are threatened by government intrusion or overreach. We realize that many of terms we discuss here and the concepts involved in eminent domain law are complex and can be confusing.  To shed some light on this “dark corner of the law” we have answered some of the frequently asked questions landowners may have relating to eminent domain and the condemnation process here and here.  In this article, we discuss the differences between eminent domain and inverse condemnation. Eminent Domain vs. Inverse Condemnation Eminent Domain There are two types of government acquisition or “taking” of private property.  One form of property acquisition includes the government’s exercise of its eminent domain power to force the sale of private property for a public project or use.  Eminent Domain – also referred to as “condemnation” – is the power of local, state or federal government agencies to take private property for public use provided the owner is paid just compensation. Sometimes, private corporations such as oil and gas companies, railroads or redevelopment authorities may be granted eminent domain power to construct projects providing a benefit to the public. The use of eminent domain power to take property is referred to by many terms and varies from state to state as well as internationally.  The acquisition may be referred to as a “condemnation” or “direct condemnation,” “expropriation,” “appropriation” or simply a “direct taking.”  In a direct condemnation or direct taking scenario, the government agency or other entity using the power […]

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March 8th, 2016 — In Articles

State and Federal Legislators Considering Changes to Eminent Domain Laws

Recently, state and federal lawmakers from across the country have introduced a number of legislative changes in the areas of private property rights and eminent domain. In this article, we highlight some of the latest (potential) legislative developments.

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March 3rd, 2016 — In Articles

I Received a Condemnation Notice. What are My Rights?

If you received a condemnation notice or a notice that your property may be needed for a public project, it means that a federal, state or local government authority is seeking to acquire your property (or an interest in your property) using the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain is the power granted to the government and governmental agencies to seize private property for public use. This power is not absolute and as a property owner, you have a number of important legal rights. However, protecting these rights can be a challenge.

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February 22nd, 2016 — In Articles

Eminent Domain & Property Rights: Where Do the 2016 Presidential Candidates Stand on these Fundamental Issues?

Republican Presidential Candidates Discuss Their Opinions on Eminent Domain With the Presidential race heating up and the field of candidates narrowing down, more and more issues are revealing distinctions between the hopefuls for the Oval Office. Somewhat surprisingly, one issue that recently created a bit of controversy among Republican candidates was the issue of eminent domain.  The current Republican front runners – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio – have been attacking each others’ positions on this important issue and stating their own on the fundamental right to own property

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February 1st, 2016 — In Articles

Can Prohibiting Demolition Constitute a Taking?

While it is clearly a taking when the government institutes condemnation proceedings to acquire private property and demolish any improvements upon the land, it’s much less clear that the government has taken an owner’s property rights when it tries to prohibit demolition on the owner’s private property. This issue arose in a recent case decided by Ohio’s First District Court of Appeals on December 30, 2015. The short answer: In some cases, prohibiting demolition can constitute a taking of private property under the Fifth Amendment.

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January 28th, 2016 — In Articles

Rails-to-Trails Takings: Property Owners’ Rights When Land Use Changes

In 1983, Congress enacted the federal National Trails System Act Amendment (known as the “Rails-to-Trails Act”) in order to preserve abandoned railroad rights of way by converting them into public recreational trails. Trails established under the Rails-to-Trails Act can range from walking and biking trails to green spaces for public use, such as the New York City High Line which was the subject of a recent takings case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and a blog post.

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