Each state has different laws concerning the way in which the government can seize real property from owners. The following questions and answers apply generally to most states. Please contact Sever Storey Law to gain guidance if the state or one of its agencies is trying to take your property. It is best to have an experienced lawyer on your side to protect your rights and hold the government fully accountable.

Eminent domain is the process by which states and localities have the right to condemn and force the sale of private property usually in order to serve a public purpose. Condemnation is the act of a government exercising its power of eminent domain, not to be confused with the legal process where a building is designated as no longer fit for habitation.

Federal, state and local municipalities have the power of eminent domain. However, in some situations these bodies have delegated that authority to administrative agencies, local boards and public utilities. Moreover, following a recent Supreme Court decision, land can be taken by private enterprises where a public economic interest can be served.

The State can use its power of eminent domain in furtherance of a public purpose. In general a public purpose includes aquisitions for roads, parks, airports and schools.   In some instances a publc purpose can even extend to takings made for economic purposes or to remove flight. See the following FAQ for more detail.

There is no one specific definition of “public purpose.” The courts have been incredibly liberal in allowing legislatures broad authority in answering that question. Traditionally, a public purpose project was seen as a school, highways, or airports. In recent years the courts have recognized more private enterprises as fitting that public purpose, e.g. economic development zones and specialized technology parks.

Around 2006 most states passed new legislation that strengthened the rights of property owners and narrowed the definition of “public purpose.” You should consult with a lawyer to see how this new law benefits you and how it protects your rights.

As with all things, it depends. The State has the power of eminent domain to acquire your property. In many instances it is very difficult to stop the State from taking your property. In the event that you wish to challenge a condemnation the State must prove courtthat your property is reasonably necessary for a public project.  Before challenging a State taking it is important that you contact competent legal counsel.

No. The state is required to pay you just compensation for your property. You have a right to challenge their determination of value.  In many instances a landowner is at a serious disavantage in properly determining value.  Competent advice is essential at this stage of the process.

The valuation of your property is one of the (if not the most) important parts of your condemnation case.  Valuations should be made by expert appraisers with condemnation litigation experience in conjunction with your legal counsel.

Normally, a property owner will know well in advance that their property is being sought for acquisition. Before instituting any type of condemnation or eminent domain proceeding states are typically required to enter into purchase negotiations with the property owner.  Remember, the property owner does not have to accept the State offer.

 The state has typically spent many years researching the acquisition of your land.  It is imperative that you engage counsel as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are fully protected.

Many condemnation and eminent domain disputes are resolved through settlement.  Mediation is a process by which the State and property owner enter into talks mediated by a neutral third party. It is best for a property owner to have legal representation when negotiating with the State.


Every time I meet a new client, one of the first things they want to know is if the offer made for their property is fair.



Many of our clients are concerned about paying legal fees in an eminent domain action.



They say that moving is one of the most stressful things in your life. Imagine the stress and anxiety if you are forced to move...



Before going alone against the State let us give you our opinion. It is our pledge that we will provide a free case review for any individual or business facing eminent domain or condemnation. Contact us now at 888-318-3761

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