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Eminent Domain and Real Estate Valuation Blog

Condemnation and Real Estate Litigation

KC Photo Exhibit On Eminent Domain

Posted in Uncategorized

An installation about eminent domain by Matt Rahner at the Kansas City Public Library in downtown Kansas City focuses on four blocks of Eminent Domain history that were cleared to make way for a new East Patrol police station and crime lab. The installation will be open to the public beginning Saturday, March 21, and runs through May 31, 2015. Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article15541937.html#storylink=cpy

TX Proposed Eminent Domain Bill Focuses On Post Taking Requirements

Posted in Eminent Domain

A Texas state senator introduced a bill seeking to prevent the use of eminent domain to take private property for public projects. TX SB 479 creates a stricter pool of defined project milestones that government entities would have to hit to prove they are making progress toward the stated public use, according to Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, who proposed the bill. “It’s important that the legislature reestablish the rights of private property owners, prevent government abuse, and encourage more timely use of property acquired through eminent domain. While eminent domain is commonly used for the greater good, it’s a power that can be easily abused,” Schwertner said in a statement.

SB 479 is intended to build on a 2011 law requiring “actual progress” be made to hold land via eminent domain. If there is no such progress, the property owner may buy back the condemned land. Schwertner contends a more stringent set of definitions is necessary to prevent abuse of eminent domain and to protect landowners’ rights.

SB 479 bumps up the number of necessary milestones that a government entity would have to hit to continue exercising eminent domain from two major benchmarks to three. The possible milestones allowed under Schwertner’s bill include performing significant labor on the property, purchasing development materials, applying for state or federal funds, procuring the services of an expert needed for the project — such as an architect, engineer or surveyor — or applying for a state or federal permit for the development.

NYC Will Not Use Eminent Domain For Redevelopment Plans

Posted in Eminent Domain

New York City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod recently stated that the City’s redevelopment plans won’t involve the use of eminent domain to acquire property.  The planning priorities include building more affordable housing and rezoning a five-block stretch of midtown Manhattan adjacent to Grand Central Terminal.  “I don’t see us using eminent domain in a broad way,” Weisbrod told a real estate conference hosted by Crain’s New York Business. “I don’t believe that it’s going to be in our toolbox.”

$22.5 Million Victory

Posted in Eminent Domain

You may recall a prior blog post regarding a case where we proved a “de facto” taking of a property.  A “de facto” condemnation – sometimes known as an “inverse condemnation” – occurs when a condemnor’s actions cause the equivalent of a taking before a declaration of taking is filed.  Our client was in the process of developing a property for residential condominiums.  PennDOT did not initiate a condemnation action until May, 2009.  We established that PennDOT’s actions caused a taking in December 2006.  As a result, the property will now be valued as of December 2006 and not May 2009.

We recently tried the damages part of the case before a “Board of View.”  PennDOT alleged the value of the condemned property was $6.75 million.  We presented evidence that the value was $25 million.  The Board entered an award of $22.5 million.

One other benefit of our de facto win is the amount of delay compensation – interest – owed to the property owner.  It will now be calculated beginning in December 2006 as opposed to 2009.  The amount will be substantial.

PennDOT will undoubtedly appeal.

St. Louis Eminent Domain Protest Held

Posted in Eminent Domain

A protest was held Sunday in North St. Louis to demonstrate against a city bill which would allow the city to condemn property in the city’s third and fifth wards.  The bill is part of attempts to encourage the new National Geospatial Agency facility construction to take place within city limits.

Homeowners spoke out in front of city leaders Sunday with the hope to save their homes.

The next hearing on the eminent domain bill is not yet scheduled.

CT State Senator Seeks To Ban Takings Of Intangible Property

Posted in Eminent Domain

A CT state senator wants to ban the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s ability to use its power of eminent domain to seize “intangible property,” such as bus companies’ licenses to carry passengers on specified routes.  CT Sen. Joe Markley, introduced a bill “to limit the state’s power of eminent domain to the taking of tangible real property” – and to “specify that such power does not extend to the taking of licenses or permits.”  “This radical expansion of eminent domain threatens every business person and property-holder in Connecticut,” Markley said.

The bill is a reaction to the DOT’s recent taking of four private bus companies’ long-standing licenses to carry passengers over certain routes.

DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker stated has said that the condemnation of the bus companies’ certificates is a continuation of a DOT effort dating back five years to put the companies’ commuter routes out to competitive bidding. He said such bidding wasn’t done decades ago when the companies obtained their certificates under a noncompetitive state regulatory system that he called “ancient.”

Idaho Sen. Seeks To Restrict Eminent Domain Powers

Posted in Eminent Domain

The Idaho Senate recently passed a bill which would prevent the use of the power of eminent domain to create hiking trails, bike paths or greenways. The bill, SB 1044, passed the Senate 20-13. It bans the use of condemnation “for trails, paths, greenways or other ways for walking, running, hiking, bicycling or equestrian use, unless adjacent to a highway, road or street.”

Critics of the bill argued that it could prevent cities from creating greenways or even to create safe walking routes to school for kids.

Sen. Jim Guthrie, the bill’s sponsor, compared the power of eminent domain to his sister once being robbed at gunpoint at the family’s grocery store. “Even though he didn’t fire the gun, there’s no question in my mind that he used it,” Guthrie said. “How fair is it, when at the beginning of the negotiation process the other party has something in their tool bag, as the cities put it, that you don’t?”

The bill now goes to the State House of Representatives.

$1,250,000 Award

Posted in Eminent Domain

I recently litigated a partial taking of a truck stop outside of Harrisburg, PA.  The most significant impacts to the property were caused by the closure of one of the driveways.

The condemnor claimed that the taking did not cause any damages.  We were able to prove that the taking caused significant damages to the functionality of the property.  The Board of View award $1,250,000.

As with many cases, it was important in this case to present experts in addition to an appraiser to further support the appraiser’s opinions.  A critical component of proving the impact was presenting industry experts including a nationally recognized truck stop expert and an engineer.  They established the real impacts of the closure of the driveway.

Pa. Commonwealth Court Addresses Tax Sales Notification Requirements Tax Sales

Posted in Valuation

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently ruled that the failure of a local sheriff’s office to include a return of service document in filings related to a disputed tax sale violated notification requirements under state law.  In that case, the allegation was that the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau failed to comply with notice provisions because affidavits filed in court by the county sheriff did not include notice of the tax sale.  “In this case, Bureau relied on the affidavits to meet its burden of proving compliance with all applicable statutory notice requirements,” ” Judge Patricia McCullough said in the opinion. “However, because the affidavit of personal service did not include the copy of the notice required by [the statute], that affidavit of personal service was not ‘complete on its face.'”  The court also reversed the trial court’s reliance on the incomplete affidavits to conclude that there was proper notice, emphasizing that “law is clear that ‘no owner occupied property may be sold’ unless the owner has received personal service of notice.”

TX May End Takings By Private Entities For Toll Roads

Posted in Eminent Domain

Texas lawmakers may eliminate a private North Texas company’s ability to use eminent domain to build toll roads.  State Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Garland, introduced a bill in response Texas Turnpike Corp.’s plans for a rural toll road from Garland to Greenville. The company is believed to be the only private entity in the state that an old law still allows to use eminent domain for projects.