A NJ appellate court ruled that the state’s Sports and Exposition Authority had the right to use eminent domain to acquire a landfill to continue solid waste disposal there. The Court held that the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority could use eminent domain to acquire the Keegan landfill. The agency also was not obligated to honor the terms of a prior agreement with the town of Kearny to turn the landfill into a public recreation space, dismissing the municipality’s allegations that the agency violated the U.S. Constitution’s contract clause. “NJSEA did not violate the Contract Clause as it was duly authorized to use eminent domain to condemn the landfill,” the decision states. “[I]t exercised that authority in furtherance of one of its stated purposes; and eminent domain is an essential attribute of state sovereignty that cannot be contracted away.” The case is New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority v. Town of Kearny et al., case number A-5152-15T1, in the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division.
A New Mexico utility has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of a decision precluding it from condemning land for a power line because the Navajo Nation held an interest in that property. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held there is no federal law permitting tribal lands to be condemned. That Court affirmed a lower court’s decision.
The Public Service Co. of New Mexico, also known as PNM, told the Supreme Court in a Nov. 20 petition that the ruling threatens the national power grid by effectively blocking Congress’ authorization of condemnation of allotted tribal lands. “In sum, the increasing need for condemnation to maintain and extend critical infrastructure will converge with the increasing unavailability of condemnation, and thus create a major problem for utilities and the public,” the company said.
The Federal Reserve Board has issued a statement providing for temporary exception to appraisal requirements in hurricane areas affected by severe storms and flooding related to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Below is that statement:
Responding to widespread damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, four federal financial institution regulatory agencies today took action to facilitate the recovery process by temporarily easing appraisal requirements for real estate-related financial transactions in areas declared to be a major disaster.
The agencies will not require financial institutions to obtain appraisals for affected transactions (1) if the properties involved are located in areas declared major disasters; (2) if there are binding commitments to fund the transactions within 36 months of the date the areas were declared major disasters, and (3) if the value of the real properties support the institutions’ decisions to enter into the transactions.
The exceptions apply to transactions in areas of Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and expire three years after the date the president declared each area a major disaster. The exceptions are being made under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and its implementing regulations.
Financial institutions that use the appraisal exception must maintain information estimating the collateral’s value that sufficiently supports their credit decision to enter into the transaction. The agencies will monitor institutions’ real estate lending practices to ensure the transactions are being originated in a safe and sound banking manner.
New Jersey has adopted a “property taxpayer bill of rights” seeking to assist property owners with the real estate assessment process. New Jersey has one of the nation’s highest property taxes. Bill A-4007 requires the state division of taxation director to list taxpayers’ real property rights “in simple and nontechnical terms” and post it on the website of the various county tax boards and municipalities in the state. It also provides taxpayers with the “right to understand the calculation of the assessment on their real property, the right to detailed information about how to appeal an assessment of real property and the right to view the real property assessment of any other parcel of real property in the municipality in which the taxpayer’s property is located.”
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 establishing a new statute of limitations regarding civil lawsuits and disciplinary actions against real estate appraisers. Under HB 376, any action to recover damages against a real estate appraiser must be brought within one year from the discovery of the act of omission giving rise to the action. However, in no event can an action be brought more than five years after the date the appraisal was performed.
Additionally, the Tennessee Real Estate Appraiser Commission cannot consider a complaint for a disciplinary acting that relates to an appraisal that was completed more than three years before the complaint was submitted.
The new law will take effect July 1, and will apply to appraisals performed after that date.
Florida has enacted a bill changing its appraiser licensing law. HB 927 includes changes advocated by the Appraisal Institute.
The law defines an “evaluation” as a “valuation permitted by any federal financial institutions regulatory agency for transactions that do not require an appraisal” and clarifies that a state-licensed appraiser may perform an evaluation. According to AI, appraisers in Florida were prevented from providing evaluations that are not in full compliance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice even though federal requirements only call for compliance with the Interagency Appraisal and Evaluation Guidelines. State-licensed appraisers will now be able to perform services in compliance with federal requirements.
In addition, the law clarifies that the Florida Real Estate Appraiser Board has the authority to adopt rules allowing for the use of standards of professional practice other than USPAP for “nonfederally related transactions.” Such transactions include appraisal assignments for portfolio monitoring, financial reporting, litigation, tax and consulting, among other areas. The law requires appraisers using development and reporting standards other than those contained in USPAP to comply with USPAP Ethics and Competency Rules and other requirements adopted by the Board by rule. The law clarifies that any valuation work performed per standards other than USPAP cannot be used to satisfy the experience requirements for any Florida appraiser credential.