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by Alan T. Ackerman

Eminent domain, often called condemnation, is the legal process the government authority may use to aquire private property for a public purpose. This power to take is granted by the Federal and State Constitutions and various statutes to local and state governmental units. Typically, all governmental agencies have the authority to take private property for a public use. Many governmental entities can share the power of eminent domain with semi-private agencies such as utility companys.

The first step in the process will be a determination by an agency that it desires to obtain property for a public use. The agency will obtain an appraisal and make a good faith offer of not less than the appraised value. It may retain experts to assist in a pre-suit negotiation process and to evalutate the initial offer made by the governmental agency.

If an agreement cannot be make in a negotiation process, the agency will be required to file a condemnation complaint if the agency desires to obtain the probperty for a public use. An answer must be filed following service fo the complaint. At that time, the estimated amount of just compensation may be withdrawn by the owner.

The notice requirements of condemnation are extremely restrictive. Carefull attention to the porcedures must be followed. For further information, please see the questions and answers provided at www.ackerman-ackerman.com

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