The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that the city of Marietta violated the Georgia Landowner’s Bill of Rights when it condemned a grocery store without providing a summary of its appraisal to the property owner. The City argued that these provisions were not mandatory. This was rejected by a unanimous Court explaining that the law is “an essential prerequisite to the filing of a petition to condemn,” and that because the city failed to fulfill that prerequisite, its petition to condemn the property must be dismissed.

 

The Louisiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments whether St. Bernard Parish port officials violated Louisiana’s eminent domain laws when they seized a privately run port operation along a mile of Mississippi River frontage in 2010. The property owner argued that port officials were trying to take the property at a bargain price and transfer it to a competitor. Louisiana law provides that “no business enterprise or any of its assets shall be taken for the purpose of operating that enterprise or halting competition with a government enterprise.” The property owner has support from national groups such as the Institute for Justice and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Attorneys for the port argued that Louisiana law specifically singles out ports and airports when it comes to the kind of “public purpose” that justifies eminent domain, citing the need “to facilitate the transport of goods or persons in domestic or international commerce.” The case is on appeal from a 2-1 split decision by a panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A bill was introduced in the PA House of Representatives which stating that “in the case of a partial taking of the property of a condemnee, a condemnor may not render the remaining parcel inaccessible to the condemnee by creating a landlocked property with no ingress or egress to or from a public road or highway.” The bill contains an exception in the event the condemnee consents to that taking. The bill, HB 1773, was introduced on September 12, 2017 and was referred to the Committee on State Government.

A Florida developer petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a $10 million takings case against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection  The developer alleged that the DEP’s denial of a development permit for a beachfront parcel was an unlawful taking. The developer intended to build 17 luxury townhouse units Fort Pierce, Florida

The trial court found the DEP’s denial constituted a taking. However, the Florida Court of Appeals reversed that decision and the Florida Supreme Court denied the developer’s petition to hear the case. The Court of Appeals found that the developer should have applied for a variance or waiver after its permit was initially denied even though the trial court found that a request for variance or waiver would have been futile. Therefore, the Court of Appeals held, the case was not “ripe.”

The developer’s petition for writ to Scotus states, “This Court should grant Beach Group’s Petition for writ of certiorari to address the miscarriage of justice resulting from the court of appeal’s reversal of the trial court’s order of taking, and to address the important federal questions of (1) whether landowners must submit and be denied economically impracticable development plans to ripen a regulatory taking claim, and (2) whether regulatory taking ripeness always requires pursuit of a variance, essentially doing away with this Court’s futility exception.”

The Utah legislature is considering policy changes regarding the acquisition of land for new charter schools and further expansions of existing schools. Specifically, there currently is uncertainty as to the eminent domain powers of charter schools in that state.

The Utah Administrative Rules Review Committee questioned what authority charter schools have to call on the state to seize property through eminent domain laws. Kristen Elinowski, a spokeswoman for the State Charter School Board, said because Utah’s eminent domain statute predates Utah’s charter schools policies, there is need for specific clarification of whether it is the state board of education, the charter school board or the charter school that should be the entity involved in approving the use of eminent domain.

The Georgia Supreme Court is considering an important case involving the state’s 2006 Landowner’s Bill of Rights statute. At issue is whether certain provisions of that statute are mandatory or merely advisory. The GA appeals court ruled that the City of Marietta violated that statute by not providing the property owner with details of the city’s appraisal of his property. The Landowner’s Bill of Rights says that the condemning authority should give the property owner an opportunity to accompany the appraiser during inspection, and provide the owner with “a written statement of, and summary of the basis for,” the offered amount. Marietta argues that these are not mandatory requirements. Oral argument was done last month.

Oregon has enacted legislation establishing a specific statute of limitations on civil actions against appraisers and appraisal firms for real estate appraisal activity. The law takes applies only to appraisals performed after January 1.  It requires that any civil action against an appraiser or an appraisal firm commence within six years after the date of the “act or omission giving rise to the action.” The limitations will not apply to actions that allege fraud or misrepresentation.

Property owners whose land will be taken for the Sabal Trail Transmission LLC’s natural gas pipeline should be compensated under Florida law rather than federal rules, a Florida federal judge ruled.

In Sabal Trail Transmission LLC v. Real Estate et al, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker denied the pipeline’s request that eminent domain compensation be determined pursuant to the federal “just compensation” standard.   The primary difference is that Florida’s just compensation includes attorneys’ fees and other expenses. Federal procedure does not provide for those expenses.

The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that the government can condemn easements for beach projects. In that case, the DEP sought voluntary easements from the landowners as part of a dune-and-berm system spanning the entire 18-mile length of Long Beach Island and 14 miles along Ocean County. The Court rejected the challenges of Ocean County property owners. The Court stated that the question was whether the specific eminent domain law at issue, N.J.S.A. 12:3-64, restricts the DEP to acquiring only a “fee simple” and not an easment. The appeals judges’ decision was based on the plain language of the statute and rejected the landowners’ arguments that the Legislature must have intended to limit the DEP’s authority to acquire only a fee simple.

Tennessee has enacted a law that will prohibit the use of eminent domain to condemn land for industrial parks. It deletes the “industrial parks” exception for takings under 29-17-102 (E), . It also provides that any property taken must fall under the strict definition of “public use” as defined by T.C.A. 29-17-102, which references the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution. In addition, it requires the condemning government body to compensate land owners for engineering fees, appraisal costs, and, in certain circumstances, legal fees that may be the result of a condemnation action. Roads, transportation projects, and utilities are exempt from these costs.