Many people have heard of condemned property, or eminent domain. That is the government's power to take or use privately owned property if it is for a "public purpose." Expansion of roads or construction of controlled access interchanges is generally considered a public purpose if conducted on public roadways. An example of one such project is that currently underway on Highways 169 and 41 in Scott County, Minnesota. Utilizing federal funding, Scott County is seeking to change access to U.S. Highway 169 by constructing overpasses and interchanges. To complete the project, Scott County will need to acquire and use adjacent property owned by private individuals and businesses.
The United States and Minnesota Constitutions guarantee landowners "just" compensation when the government wants to take or use privately owned property. The government is constrained by the funds allocated in the project budget so it will try to pay the lowest probable amount. Property owners, however, may suffer a greater loss by the taking than what is initially offered as "just" compensation. If you believe the offer is not fair, then you are probably right. Establishing the fair value of an owner's property interest can be a complicated issue but an attorney can work with you and other professionals to fairly value all of your loss.
Concerns about the costs of seeking legal assistance are usually misplaced. In many cases, attorneys are willing to take case of this type on a contingent fee basis because the government is often required to pay for a property owners' attorney fees. This means the attorney undertakes the case based upon an assessment of the likelihood of successfully increasing the compensation paid to the property owner for the taking. Schedule your free consultation today with one of the attorneys at JMW to find out what options are available in your case.