Landowners in the Maumee-Toledo area are facing increasing challenges from local government entities who want to compel the sale of their land to permit a development that is backed by the municipality. These projects range from freeways to housing developments. They can include virtually any type of development that the municipality views as important to its economic future. What should a land owner do when served with a petition to condemn his or her land?
Hire a lawyer – fast!
The very first move is to call an attorney who is knowledgeable about eminent domain proceedings. Two important questions must be faced at the outset – is the taking proper under Ohio laws and the state and federal constitutions? And how much is the land worth? A private landowner can be compelled to sell an asset only if the condemning authority intends to use it for a proper public purpose. Most municipalities and other public entities in Ohio have access to competent legal representation, and they generally do not attempt to exercise the power of eminent domain unless they have been advised that the taking passes constitutional muster. However, experienced eminent domain attorneys understand that opposing the taking on constitutional grounds is a tactic that can be used to increase the price that the taking authority can be persuaded to pay. That observation leads to the second issue – maximizing the price that the landowner will be paid for the parcel under consideration.
Most eminent domain cases are settled when the parties agree on a fair price for the land subject to the taking petition. Attorneys with experience in eminent domain cases understand this point and they will devote their energies to proving that the landowner is eligible to receive the highest possible price. One of the most effective tools to achieving this goal is an effective real estate appraiser. Both the taking authority and the landowner’s attorney will hire reputable and persuasive appraisers to provide a professional estimate of the land’s fair market value.
Responding to a “quick take” motion
In Ohio and a few other states, the taking authority can obtain possession of the subject tract by offering to pay into court an amount determined by the judge. Lawyers who represent landowners must be alert to attempts by various condemning authorities to abuse the quick take power by using it for an improper purpose.
As can be seen from this summary, an eminent domain case can quickly become complicated and can involve legal decisions that may involve thousands or even millions of dollars of the client’s money. Anyone facing involvement in an eminent domain case in the Toledo-Maumee area would do well to contact Barkan & Roban, Ltd. For advice and assistance in responding to the petition and in dealing with the taking authority to maximize the amount paid for the lane at issue.