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Eminent Domain and Real Estate Valuation Blog

Condemnation and Real Estate Litigation

US House Bill Introduced Seeking To Limit Eminent Domain Power

Posted in Eminent Domain

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has introduced legislation in the US House seeking to prevent state and local governments from using eminent domain for economic development. The “Private Property Rights Protection Act” would prevent a state or political subdivision of a state from obtaining federal economic funds for two fiscal years if it uses its eminent domain power to transfer private property to other private parties for the purpose of economic development. The bill was first introduced in 2005 in the wake of the Kelo case.

California Considers Appraiser Regulatory Legislation

Posted in Eminent Domain

The California legislature in considering legislation seeking to modernize its regulatory system. It has been passed by the State Assembly and the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee and currently is pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee. If AB 624 would allow state-certified appraisers to use standards of valuation practice other than the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice when performing non-federally related appraisal work.

Any alternative valuation standards would need to be reviewed and approved by the California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers and the client. AB 624 is similar to legislation that was enacted into law in Texas and is under consideration in several other states.

TX Updates Appraiser Law

Posted in Eminent Domain

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 1007 which amends the TX appraiser licensing and certification law. The bill will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.

According to the Appraisal Institute, SB 1007 includes provisions related to three high-priority issues for the Appraisal Institute:

  1. The bill will allow the Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board to adopt rules relating to the standards for the development of an appraisal and the conveyance of an appraisal report that are “recognized as substantially equivalent to” the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.
  2. The bill clarifies that an appraiser who is certified by a jurisdiction other than Texas can perform a review of an appraisal of real property in Texas without a Texas appraiser credential if the appraiser does not offer an opinion of value as part of the review process.
  3. The bill grants the TALCB maximum flexibility to adopt rules to implement the Appraiser Qualifications Board’s requirements that states have processes in place to ensure that applicants.

Kelo Case To Be A Movie

Posted in Eminent Domain

The infamous Kelo v. City of New London will now be made into a movie. Producer Courtney Balaker is planning on beginning filming Little Pink House. It will be depicted as an underdog story focusing on the lead plaintiff – Suzette Kelo – who fought to save her house from condemnation. Her fight led to the SCOTUS landmark 2005 case.

Orlando Avoids Eminent Domain For Soccer Stadium

Posted in Eminent Domain

Orlando City Soccer will apparently purchase a necessary property to build its new soccer stadium rather than rely upon the City’s power of eminent domain. The City of Orlando previously was proceeding to acquire the property though the exercise of its power of eminent domain.  However, apparently concerned that it could not then transfer the property to a private entity, the City “unwinded” the process according to the City’s attorney.  It told the owner it was backing out of the eminent domain process, and convinced that owner to sell directly to Orlando City Soccer.

PA Considers Amendment To Relocation Law

Posted in Eminent Domain

The PA House is considering a bill that would amend the PA Eminent Domain Code’s relocation statute.  That statute applies where a business or residence is forced to relocate due to a condemnation and is in addition to damages for the loss of the real estate.  The bill would increase the reimbursement amount for “reestablish[ing] a displaced farm, nonprofit organization or small business at its new site” from $12,000 to $25,000.  It would also increase the additional amount paid to homeowners under certain circumstances from $27,000 to $31,000.  It is too early to predict the likelihood that this bill will become law.

Appraisal Foundation Adopts Green Valuation Advisory

Posted in Appraisers

The Appraisal Practices Board (APB) of The Appraisal Foundation has announced the adoption of the first of three Valuation Advisories related to the valuation of green buildings.  The Appraisal Foundation provides guidance to appraisers and is best known for its “USPAP” publication.

The Advisory, entitled “Valuation of Green and High Performance Property: Background and Core Competency,” offers voluntary guidance to appraisers on the background and competency necessary to credibly value green buildings and/or energy-efficient features. According to the Appraisal Foundation, these Advisories are part of an ongoing joint project with the United States Department of Energy (DOE) to develop guidance and educational materials for appraisers on green valuation. Representatives from the DOE are actively participating in the development of these Valuation Advisories as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

To view the Advisory, please visit:  https://appraisalfoundation.sharefile.com/d-s5f8aa66a58a41f09

Pa. Court Overturns $35M Reassessment

Posted in Uncategorized

PA’s Commonwealth Court found that Fayette County waited to assess a property owned by Duke Energy Corp until a tax abatement ended instead of assessing it when Duke Energy upgraded the property because it lacked the money to conduct a proper assessment and wanted to wait until the property was taxable. The Court overturned a trial court’s opinion, saying state law is clear that property assessments must occur when improvements are made on the property, not after.   “Here, although an outside appraiser would have been necessary and costly, the costs of the appraisal at the proper time is not a factor which the board had the luxury of weighing,” the Commonwealth Court explaine.

Duke used 60 acres to build a gas-fired electric-generating station and applied to enroll those acres in the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax abatement program. Duke finished construction on the station in 2003 and told Fayette County. But the county waited to assess the property because it felt the assessment would be expensive — about $25,000 to $50,000 — and it didn’t want to expend funds until the property became taxable and it could see a return on its investment.

Over 200 Properties To Be Taken For California Rail Project

Posted in Eminent Domain

It is projected that over 200 properties may be condemned for a high-speed rail project in California.  The California Public Works Board adopted 23 resolutions to acquire properties in Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. The land, adding up to more than 115 acres, is deemed necessary by the California High-Speed Rail Authority for the first two construction segments of its statewide bullet-train network.  Since December 2013, the Public Works Board has adopted 230 such resolutions covering more than 625 acres of land in the four counties. The entire 520-mile line is estimated to cost about $68 billion by the time it is planned to be fully operational in 2028.

NC House Passes Eminent Domain Constitutional Amendment

Posted in Eminent Domain

North Carolina’s State House passed HB 3 which attempts to limit eminent domain powers.  The bill, which has 69 House sponsors and co-sponsors, would add language to the North Carolina constitution specifying that local and state governments can take private property with “just compensation” only for a “public use” and would guarantee a jury trial if requested by the condemnee.  Sponsor Rep. Chuck McGrady, stated his belief that these requirements are already in North Carolina law, but unlike most states, are not in its constitution.  It is the first step towards a ballot measure to amend the NC Constitution.

The US Constitution – and many other state constitutions – have a “public use” requirement that must be satisfied before the power of eminent domain can be exercised.  However, federal law – most notably restated in the infamous Kelo case, holds that the term “public use” means “public purpose” and does not mean that the public must be permitted to use the condemned property.  Rep. McGrady stated, “Some courts have talked in terms of a public purpose or public benefit, and with time, the test has gotten rather fuzzy or has morphed.”  “The bill will mean that a public use does not mean the taking of property in order to convey an interest in that property for economic development,” McGrady said. “We’re not trying to make new law here. We’re just trying to make sure North Carolina’s law stays what it is.”

Nearly identical provisions passed the House in 2013 and 2014 by overwhelming margins, and similar bills won House approval in prior years, but Senate leaders have refused to take up the matter.  It is currently in the Senate Rules Committee.  If passed by the NC Senate it will allow a ballot measure to amend the State constitution.