Eminent Domain Authorities
You know that certain government entities have the power to condemn your property and acquire it via eminent domain. However, many entities have the power of eminent domain that are not strictly governments or government agencies. These include public utilities that are corporations organized for the purposes of providing power, wastewater facilities, or other public services. In order to be able exercise eminent domain authority, these corporations must be given explicit authority to do so.
If your property is being threatened with condemnation, but you do not think the condemning authority has actually been granted that power, you may have grounds to resist the taking. To learn more, please call or email theFlorida Property Rights Law Firm today and talk to an eminent domain lawyer.
Eminent Domain for Public Works
Initially, eminent domain powers were granted to the president, directors, and authorized agents “of any corporation organized for the purpose of constructing, maintaining, or operating public works” (Florida Statutes 361.01). This authority was explicitly expanded to:
- Dams for waterpower
- Railroads and electric railways
- Sewer and wastewater systems
- Natural gas
- Petroleum and petroleum products pipeline companies
The powers given to condemning authorities include first the right of entry in order to survey the land and then the right to appropriate the land for public use following the due process of eminent domain.
These powers were also extended to electric utilities, defined as any authority or public body, investor-owned utility, or rural electric cooperative established in the state in 1975. However, it does not extend to individuals, other corporations, foreign powers, or foreign public utilities. These other entities can only exercise eminent domain through a recognized electric utility in Florida. Because of Florida’s ban on municipalities using eminent domain to transfer property to a private entity, it is also unlikely that these other entities could work with a governmental organization other than a utility to obtain land for their utility projects.
When you receive notice that your land is being considered for an eminent domain taking, your first question should be whether the sender of the letter has the authority to condemn your property. In Florida, there are strict limits on who has the power to initiate a taking and to what uses the land can be put after taking. You may be able to challenge the taking on this basis. Failing this, you can still pursue full compensation for your property.