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Is it possible to challenge eminent domain?

Can an aggrieved party challenge or object to eminent domain? Yes, however, there are a few stipulations. First, the person must have a chance to receive fair notice. This means that the person should be given reasonable time to seek legal advice and prepare a formal objection to what the government wants.

The hearing will give the landowner a chance to be heard in a forum that will determine whether an actual taking had occurred, whether an offer of just compensation had been made and whether the taking was for public use.

Before the government attempts to exercise eminent domain, there must be good faith negotiations with the landowner over the compensation for the land. A notice of intent is initially served to the landowner. This notice will describe the property, what it will be used for and a financial offer. There is usually a lot of mediation at this point. If an agreement can't be reached, then a formal condemnation action may be started.

State laws vary on condemnation proceedings. The landowner can usually contest the amount of compensation the government has offered and the taking. Should the landowner lose the appeal, he or she could challenge the process in court by alleging a violation of his or her constitutional rights. In court, both sides of the issue can offer evidence, including witness testimony. Appeals can take years, but the taking is not generally stopped. A landowner who wins on appeal will usually only get monetary damages.

As you can see, this is a complex, time-consuming issue. An experienced attorney can provide guidance in what may become a long battle for your property.

Source: FindLaw, "Challenging Eminent Domain," accessed Dec. 22, 2015

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