Under Georgia’s eminent domain laws, in certain instances, the government or a government entity may be permitted to take private property for public use. There are many acceptable forms of public use, including turning property into public roads, building infrastructure such as water pipes, or sewage pipes, building power lines, or to build a school. In recent years, eminent domain laws have been used for other purposes, including building oil pipes, or for “the public good.” This expansion of eminent domain law has created a situation where individuals may find that their property is being devalued by the government or their business may be threatened due to the government’s attempt to seize the property. In some cases, private property owners may be forced to sell their property, often at a much lower value, so that private developers can build on the land. Under eminent domain, the government gets to set the fair market value of your property. If you’re facing the loss of your land or property under Georgia’s eminent domain laws, you need an eminent domain lawyer fighting for your rights. We can assist you if you are facing eminent domain issues. Our firm works aggressively to protect the rights of property owners in Georgia. The Evans Law Firm can fight to protect your property or work for proper compensation for your property.
Eminent Domain—In the Interest of the Public Good? Or the Shattering of the American Dream?
Eminent domain laws, when applied properly, allow the government to perform its essential functions. It allows the government to fairly compensate citizens when it seizes their property in the service of constructing much-needed roads, schools, or utilities. However, in recent years, as cities and governments have struggled to maintain a tax base, governments have been using eminent domain laws to seize property from private owners so that private developers can build more expensive properties like condos or offices that will increase the tax base. For those who have never faced this eminent domain issue directly, the idea that the government can set a value for your property and seize it, sounds unconstitutional and unfounded. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London, found it legal for municipalities and the government to seize private property as long as the government can justify that it will benefit the community at large.
In the service of the “public good” the government has been forcing homeowners, land owners, and businesses off their properties, requiring them to sell their properties at a value the government deems a “fair market value.” Many claim that the “fair market value” is never enough. In fact, it prevents homeowners from using the free market to get a better deal on their properties. In fact, before eminent domain was used, companies would select several locations for their projects, and sign deals with the homeowners and communities who all agreed to sell first. The system allowed communities to set a fair market value for their properties, but also allowed communities to compete against one another in offering the best deal within the market. In these deals, homeowners would often receive compensation well above the fair market value of their homes.
Areas can be deemed “blighted” even when they are suburban communities. “Blighted” is a statutory term, utilized by the government when it decides that property or land can be used for a “higher” or “better” use. While many individuals claim that the practice is unconstitutional, CBS News reports that in just the last five years, the government has taken more than 10,000 properties. In fact, eminent domain law can be used, even when the government then plans to sell the property to a local business or developer for their benefit. More developers and property owners are going to the government to use eminent domain to get people off property they want. This way, the businesses don’t have to negotiate with the property owners directly.
You have rights under the law if your property is being condemned under eminent domain in Georgia. Contact the Evans Law Firm today to learn more about how to protect yourself if you have an eminent domain question or if you are facing losing your property under Georgia’s eminent domain laws. The Evans law Firm are eminent domain lawyers who work closely with families and property owners to help them protect their rights.
How to Fight Eminent Domain
If you are facing eminent domain issues, it is wise to speak to a Georgia eminent domain lawyer. In some cases, if you learn that your property or neighborhood has been designated as “blighted” or is at risk of redevelopment, you may only have a limited time to challenge the government’s designation of your neighborhood. An eminent domain lawyer can assist you in challenging these designations. If you are facing seizure, a lawyer can either challenge the government or fight to help you get the compensation you may deserve for your property. Contact the Evans Law Firm today to learn more and to protect your rights.