“What’s the Difference Between Land Condemnation & Eminent Domain?”
1. What is land condemnation?
Simply put, land condemnation is the legal process by which a condemnor seizes private land for public purpose, benefit, or use under the power of eminent domain. For such an exercise to be constitutional, the condemnor must show the project serves a public purpose and must pay just compensation to the landowner
2. What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is the legal power of government to condemn private property for public or commercial use—provided the land taking somehow benefits the public. If a property owner disputes land condemnation, the court often defers to local or state authorities for an assessment of public benefit. Broad, lenient assessments allow condemnation to benefit private parties or businesses—even if future benefits never occur.
3. Can I assume the government will treat me fairly?
No. The government—like any other real estate buyer—wants to obtain property as cheaply as possible. The difference in eminent domain and land condemnation is the government takes the land. While the law requires the condemnor pay “just compensation,” we find most government offers severely undervalue properties.
4. What are my rights if my property is condemned?
You have the right under the United States and North Carolina state constitutions to:
- Prevent condemnation if land seizure would not serve public purpose, benefit, or use
- Be paid fair, just, and non-taxable compensation for the property taken from you
- Recover moving, replacement housing, relocation, advisory, and other expenses–subject to limitation
5. Who pays the costs of condemnation proceedings?
Often, the condemnor is responsible for court costs—including reasonable attorney, appraisal, or engineering fees. At Henson Fuerst, we handle most condemnations on a contingency fee basis. In those cases where this is not applicable or advisable, we may represent landowners on an hourly basis. Our North Carolina property lawyers will help determine your best course of action.
6. Do I need a lawyer to challenge condemnation or to seek compensation?
After reviewing numerous condemnation proceedings in several counties over many years—our law firm believes landowners who hire a lawyer fare better in condemnation case proceedings than those without representation. If you are facing land condemnation, our North Carolina eminent domain attorneys are here to help.
7. When selecting an attorney what criteria should I consider?
The main thing to consider when hiring an attorney is experience. The right attorney handles eminent domain, land condemnation, and property rights cases on a regular basis. Experienced in all facets of landowner rights; the right attorney knows how to properly evaluate appraisal reports, will not compromise for local politics or other potential work, and will not hesitate to take a case to trial. Henson Fuerst will stand by you and help you get the outcome you deserve.
8. How is fair value for my property determined?
The value of land taken from property owners is typically determined by appraisers using the Sales Comparison, Cost, or Income Capitalization approach. It is critical that the appraiser in your case work with your lawyer to assess all valuation methods. Henson Fuerst can answer your questions about property owners’ rights and determine your best course of action based on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case.
9. What is the North Carolina law on public purpose?
In 2005’s Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court approved condemnation of urban land to build commercial properties for “future economic development.” The court found there was public purpose—even though some land would not be open for public use, the land would be leased to private entities, and there was no guarantee of future economic development. A public outcry ensued—with 48 states passing laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting such condemnations. North Carolina is one of only two states not to pass corrective actions—meaning your land may not be protected from eminent domain.
10. What is a Design-Build project?
With recent legislative changes; the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) now subcontracts all design, planning, right-of-way acquisition, and construction to outside contractors. While nearly all roadway projects have traditionally been managed by the NCDOT, Design-Build greatly changes how roadways are built in the state. If your property is affected by a Design-Build project, talk with your lawyer about how this may impact your interests.
11. Can I be compensated if eminent domain acquisitions hurt my business?
Yes and no. Eminent domain typically only deals with taking real property—including land, buildings, permanent structures, improvements, and access thereto. It typically does not compensate businesses for lost profits, revenues, or interruptions. There are exceptions to this, however, including relocation benefits to which the business is entitled. An experienced eminent domain land condemnation lawyer from Henson Fuerst can analyze your specific situation for a more complete answer.
We’re Here to Help
If you’re facing land condemnation—or the seizure of your home, business, church, or farm under eminent domain—you don’t have to face the government or big corporations alone. The experienced eminent domain and land condemnation attorneys at Henson Fuerst protect the rights of property owners across North Carolina—and we want to help you too. Call Henson Fuerst at (919) 781-1107 or complete our free initial consultation form.
When you call, you will speak with one of our experienced North Carolina eminent domain and land condemnation attorneys absolutely FREE. Attorneys David Henson and Anne Fisher are committed to protecting the rights of property owners facing land condemnation.
Call Henson Fuerst, Because Your Case Matters