Virginia Eminent Domain/Condemnation Attorneys
Eminent domain is the power of the government to take its citizens’ private property or private land for public use; condemnation is the legal process by which a governmental body exercises its right of eminent domain to acquire the private property for public use. Condemnation proceedings involve a number of steps, such as a resolution of public need, an offer to purchase properties of landowners, and, if a negotiated purchase price is not possible, then a condemnation lawsuit.
Though there have been hotly disputed cases over the appropriate use of taking private property for the public good, the government’s eminent domain power broadly extends across a number of industries, most commonly transportation, redevelopment, public works, and utilities. Public use is typically defined as government projects, such as the widening of roads, building schools, creating roads and parks, and correcting drainage issues.
Additionally, there has been some recent change as to whether the government can take property solely for its own use or for another private entities’ use. For example, an area that was declared to be “blighted” was taken through eminent domain and then transferred to another private party. The question of whether the government can take your land for a specific cause is rather complicated and involves a thorough analysis of federal and state law.
In cases of eminent domain or condemnation, the United States Constitution entitles the property owner to be paid “just compensation” for their property that is taken. Determining an amount that is considered “just compensation” is not as simple as it seems, as the compensation must be based on the property’s “highest and best use.” In other words, a landowner that owns a family farm next to a vibrant shopping district may be able to have the farm valued as land in the shopping district as opposed to mere farm land.
The land owner is also entitled to receive any diminution in value caused to remaining property that is not taken. Given the complicated issues that arise in determining “just compensation” and diminution in value, it is wise and prudent for land owners to receive the counsel of an experienced eminent domain attorney to navigate this process and ensure they receive full compensation for their property loss.
In various stages of the eminent domain proceeding, the condemning authority will wish to negotiate the value of your land and obtain information about your ownership and use of the land. Keep in mind, even if the government has the right to take your property by eminent domain, it does not have the right to dictate the price it is willing to pay. Since compensation is determined by the highest and best use for your property, you have a right to negotiate what you consider to be just compensation based on the highest and best use.
Protecting your property from a government taking or condemnation action can be a difficult task to face alone. If the government indicates a desire or decision to “take” your land for public use, it is imperative that you are represented by experienced and savvy eminent domain counsel.
To fully protect your rights, let the Virginia Eminent Domain attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. represent you during the entire condemnation process. The condemning authority has full knowledge of its rights and responsibilities under eminent domain law, while individual property owners typically have little understanding and knowledge of the eminent domain and condemnation procedures.
Please contact Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 if you’d like to explore representation by an experienced eminent domain attorney.