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Category: Articles

July 14th, 2016 — In Articles

North Carolina Supreme Court Holds Map Act Unconstitutional

In an important victory for property owners, the North Carolina Supreme Court recently held that key provisions of the state’s Map Act are unconstitutional. As a result of the Court’s ruling June 10, 2016, affected property owners will be entitled to just compensation for the state’s regulatory taking of their properties. Additionally, landowners throughout the state may seek just compensation in the event that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) prevents them from improving their land in order to reserve property for future roadway development projects.

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June 30th, 2016 — In Articles

Glossary: Eminent Domain Terminology

If a government agency (or a utility or other private company acting with the government’s authority to use the power of eminent domain) is attempting to take your property, it is critical to make sure that you understand your rights under the law of eminent domain. For most people, this starts with familiarizing yourself with the basic terminology involved. To help you get started, we have prepared a glossary of some of the key terms.

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June 29th, 2016 — In Articles

OCA Files Amicus Brief In Support of Property Owners in NC “Public Trust Doctrine” Case

Along our country’s shores, a historical legal principle known as the “public trust doctrine” allows members of the public to access the beach beyond either the mean high or low water mark, even where this section of the beach (as well as the land above the water mark) is private property. This is the law in most states; and, until recently, it was clear that the public trust doctrine did not – and was not intended to –provide local governments the authority to interfere with landowners’ rights in the “dry sand” areas of their private property.

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June 7th, 2016 — In Articles

California Court Rules that Obstructing a Private View Does Not Amount to Inverse Condemnation

A recent case out of the California Court of Appeal illustrates two important aspects of the law of inverse condemnation in The Golden State. Inverse condemnation involves the government appropriating private property rights without adhering to the Constitutional and legal requirements for the exercise of eminent domain (including payment of just compensation). You can read more about the differences between eminent domain (also referred to as “condemnation”) and inverse condemnation here.

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May 25th, 2016 — In Articles

Owners’ Counsel of America Files Amici Brief with The Cato Institute in SCOTUS Property Rights Case

On January 15, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it will hear the regulatory takings case of Murr v. Wisconsin, No. 15-214, an appeal out of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Wisconsin’s intermediate court ruled that a property owner’s separate but adjacent parcels should be considered as a single property for purposes of determining if an uncompensated taking has occurred, despite the fact that doing so substantially deprived the owner of the value of one of the independent parcels. Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) and The Cato Institute (Cato) are asking the Supreme Court to reach a different conclusion.  

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May 10th, 2016 — In Articles

Department of Energy Moves Forward With First-Of-Its-Kind Exercise of Authority While Bill to Protect Property Owners Remains Pending

Last year, Representative Steve Womack (R-AR) and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) proposed matching versions of the Assuring Private Property Rights Over Vast Access to Land Act (the “APPROVAL Act”) in the House and Senate. The APPROVAL Act would limit the U.S. Department of Energy’s authority under Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by requiring approval from a state’s governor and public service commission for any Section 1222 energy transmission project before the federal government may use the power of eminent domain to take private property.

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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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