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Can you challenge an eminent domain taking?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Eminent Domain |

It can be shocking to find out that the government intends to take your property for its own use. When this happens, it can feel unfair, like you’re being cheated out of what you’ve worked hard to acquire. You might also find yourself worried about what the future has in store for you.

Although this process can be incredibly stressful, you should take some comfort in knowing that you can challenge certain aspects of it that feel unfair. Previously on the blog, we talked about just compensation and how to ensure you’re getting a fair deal for your property. But is there anything you can do to prevent the taking altogether?

Challenging an eminent domain taking

Before the government can take your property, it must demonstrate that it’s doing so for the public good. Historically, this “public good” requirement was interpreted very broadly, which has traditionally meant that landowners have been behind the 8-ball, so to speak, when it comes to challenging the utilization of eminent domain.

However, in recent years, there’s been a bit of a shift in how these cases are analyzed. Courts are now more receptive to arguments that the exercise of eminent domain furthers the private interest of developers rather than the public at large.

For example, in one case, a court found that a developer who already had road access to its project was prevented from utilizing eminent domain to secure more property that could have helped the developer to further develop the site.

Successful arguments have also been raised that the condemnation power has been improperly delegated from government officials to private entities. In one state, this was seen when a local redevelopment authority gave the power of eminent domain to a hotel developer rather than exercising that power itself.

So, what can you do to challenge a taking in your eminent domain case?

There are a few ways to challenge a taking in its entirety. In order to do so, though, you might want to consider each of the following:

  • Consider the extent of the taking: The extent of a taking isn’t justified just because the government claims it to be. In far too many instances, the government tries to take more land than it actually needs, which could include your property. So, make sure you gather information about the purpose of the taking to determine whether the government really needs your property to achieve its purposes.
  • Assess the purpose: Keep in mind that in order to be legal, a forced taking must be for the public good. By analyzing the circumstances surrounding your case, you might find arguments to make that the taking doesn’t further the public interests. Instead, the taking may simply further private interests of developers. Think through how you can make that argument if it’s applicable in your case.
  • Think about whether alternative develop methods are available: If you can show that the goals of the developer can be met through other forms than a forced taking, then you might be able raise doubt as to the necessity of the taking. This may position you better to succeed in your case.

Don’t let the complexities of eminent domain get the best of you

Eminent domain cases can be complex. To protect your interests as much as possible, you have to know how to navigate the intricacies confronting you.