When eminent domain is used by the government
Residents of Florida may have questions regarding eminent domain proceedings. The common questions revolve around the issue of whether a government may take a property under certain circumstances.
A recent situation in Florida provides an illustrative example to these questions. A sewage treatment utility desires a parcel of real estate to update a lift station. Though the utility has attempted negotiations with the owner, it has sought approval to take the property via eminent domain.
The governing body, a county commission, has withheld approval for such proceedings. The commission expressed a desire to see if alternative solutions are available. There seems to be a disagreement over the value of the property.
The sewage treatment utility illustrates the general elements of an eminent domain proceeding. First, the party taking the property is a government entity. Second, if the property is taken, it is done for a public purpose. In this case, the public purpose is updating a sewage facility. Third, the governing body must approve of the eminent domain proceeding. Fourth, there must be compensation to the landowner if the property is taken through eminent domain. If the government entity and landowner agree on a price, it is not an eminent domain proceeding but a simple real estate sale.
Often, the most litigated issue in an eminent domain proceeding is the compensation to be paid to the landowner. The entity must pay just compensation to the owner, but how much is fair can be complicated. The fair compensation may be affected by whether it is income-producing property, whether it was purchased for development, whether there have been improvements and many other factors. These are situations where an experienced real estate attorney may be useful.