Private Development

Are you questioning the government’s rationale for taking your property? Is it for public use or private gain? You don’t have to accept the reason given.

Eminent Domain for Private Use

The state and federal government have the right to take your private property through state statutes and the Fifth Amendment power of eminent domain, also known as the “takings clause,” so long as it is necessary for public use and the government provides you just compensation. Generally, just compensation is determined by factors that include the property’s fair market value.

However, the government has a history of misusing its eminent domain authority – also known as “condemnation” or “land condemnation” – by taking private property improperly to give to private companies for economic development.

Can the government seize private land and give it to a private company to develop through eminent domain?

Yes. There have been examples of eminent domain takings that involve local and state governments condemning private property to give to private companies to develop throughout the country. The Institute for Justice in Washington compiled a report that documented dozens of such instances of land being taken from property owners to serve private interests or given to a private entity, including:

  • In Atlantic City, a middle-class neighborhood was subject to an eminent domain taking so that private companies could build a tunnel to a new casino that was a private entity.
  • In Bremerton, Washington, the government used eminent domain to seize the home of a property owner who was a woman in her 80s (and lived in the home for 55 years), claiming that the property would be used to expand a sewer plant. The property was given to an auto dealership instead.

Unfortunately, there are many more such examples throughout history.

Is fighting back against eminent domain ever successful?

There are a few examples where a government seizure for private use was so clearly not for a public use that property owners were successfully able to resist:

  • In another case in Atlantic City, an elderly widow successfully resisted a state agency’s attempt to take her home through eminent domain for a well-known U.S. real estate developer to turn into a limousine parking lot.The court ruled that since the developer could do whatever he wanted with the land once it was his, the eminent domain taking in his favor did not therefore meet the Fifth Amendment’s public use requirement.
  • In Philadelphia, the owner of a private museum, artist’s studio, and cultural center avoided condemnation proceedings after a national outcry and pressure from the Institute for Justice and the ACLU. The city originally attempted to condemn the owner’s property for the private development of a grocery store and parking lot. It claimed that doing so would satisfy the public use requirement because of food scarcity in the area.

The city offered $600,000 for a property that had been appraised for more than $2 million. However, the city’s own redevelopment plans revealed that it had more than enough vacant space in the surrounding area to make available for the grocery store, so taking the artist’s space wasn’t necessary. Ultimately, the city relented and released a statement that it would end condemnation proceedings against the property.

It should be strongly emphasized that these examples are not the norm. In the overwhelming majority of cases, you should not seek to fight the government’s assertion of public use. Instead, you should fight for every dollar you may deserve in just compensation.

In most cases you should not seek to fight the government's assertion of public use. Instead fight for everything you may deserve in just compensation.

What is the law for the government’s use of eminent domain?

Several court rulings have expanded the power of the government to seize private property through eminent domain for public use.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that governments could take property that was “blighted” to improve them as a “public use.” Unfortunately, that ruling – Berman v. Parker – laid the foundation for eminent domain and private development.

Properties that were standing in the way of the development ambitions of a private company have simply been declared “blighted” so that the government could take them through eminent domain. In one town, authorities declared any homes in the area that did not have at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an attached two-car garage to be “blighted” in order to make room for the construction of a new high-rise condo to benefit a private company.

New Supreme Court Decision Sends States and Property Owners Scrambling

In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded and upheld the government’s eminent domain authority to condemn properties for a private company to redevelop. New London, which was struggling with a depressed tax base and a diminishing population, seized property near a newly constructed Pfizer plant for private companies to turn into offices, condominiums, and shops to attract new businesses and jobs.

The homeowners challenged the eminent domain takings of their property, but the Supreme Court ultimately ruled against them. Pfizer eventually closed its plant, and the business and retail complex was not built on the private land after all – a stinging irony and a reminder of the potential consequences when eminent domain laws are used to benefit a private entity.

Many thought the court granted the government overly broad powers in its use of eminent domain, and legislators in 40+ states across the country enacted more stringent eminent domain laws, limiting government power. The federal government also passed legislation that made it harder for a private company to use land from eminent domain takings.

In North Carolina, legislation was passed in 2006 that limited the use of eminent domain for a private company to only if the property were classified as “blighted.”

Experienced North Carolina Eminent Domain Lawyers

Is the government trying to its use eminent domain authority to acquire property from you even though you’re not a willing seller?

Is it for public use or private developers? Do you have questions about your property rights?

If you have been notified that your property is being targeted for condemnation, you can and should pursue maximum compensation. Call a North Carolina eminent domain lawyer at the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm to find out how we can help you.

Our North Carolina eminent domain lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that if we don’t get you additional compensation over what the government has initially offered you, we don’t collect a fee. Guaranteed.

That also means we advance all costs of building your case, including testimony and research from expert witnesses as needed, such as land planners, civil engineers, surveyors, environmentalists, and more.

Since we’ve been in business, we’ve helped our clients get more than 3x their initial offer, on average.1

Call 1-877-393-4990 or contact us online today to find out how much your case is really worth.

Get a free case evaluation

Get a free case
evaluation today.

There are only a handful of attorneys in NC who practice eminent domain exclusively, and even fewer with NCDOT experience. We have several. That’s why its worth getting in touch with us for a free case evaluation.

Here’s how it works:

1) Tell us about your situation.

2) We research your property as needed, using DOT maps, our own technology, and experience to see the exact effects.

3) We let you know what we think a fair offer would be. This evaluation is free, and there’s no
pressure or obligation to hire us after.

But please don’t wait to act. Waiting can hurt your case, and the cost is the same: free.

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