Property owners whose private property has been taken by eminent domain (also known as condemnation) turn to Lerch, Early & Brewer for assistance in receiving fair and just compensation. Our attorneys have helped individuals, businesses and organizations receive compensation far in excess of what the condemning organization first offered.
Many different governments, government agencies, and even private companies have the right to take private property by eminent domain. Federal, state, county and city governments can condemn property, as can private companies such as railroads, utility companies and transportation agencies. In Montgomery County, Maryland, property owners have been impacted by new highways (I-270 and the Inter County Connector), park acquisitions, schools, libraries, power lines, fire stations and public buildings. Recent cases have involved roads, takings resulting from BRAC (Base Realignment and Closings) changes, and we may see additional takings related to the Purple Line and the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) in the coming years.
Room for Evaluation and Negotiation
Eminent domain and condemnation law is complex, and can be different for any given case. Many people accept the financial settlement that the condemning agency offers because they believe that it is a final offer and they are required to accept it. As with any property sale, there is always room for evaluation and negotiation, and the level of success will often depend on the expertise of the owner’s negotiator and team of experts.
Since 1965, our attorneys have been actively involved in condemnation cases. In the last few years we have achieved settlements totaling approximately $30 million for our clients involving takings by the state, the county and other local agencies. Condemned properties have included industrial, commercial, agricultural, single family and mixed use. Clients included corporations, developers, homeowners associations (HOAs), condo associations and individual homeowners. Initial offerings from the governments totaled a little more than $13 million. Cases were conducted (at the clients’ directives) on either a contingent or hourly fee basis. Not all properties are apt to receive offers significantly in excess of the initial offers, but our background allows us to evaluate the likelihood of a particular property receiving substantial additional compensation.
Our attorneys are experienced in condemnation negotiation and mediation, but are always prepared to go to trial if necessary to determine the fair market value of the land.
To successfully challenge fair market value set by a condemning authority is not a task for the faint of heart or those uneducated in eminent domain law. It takes knowledge, time, and above all, patience and the ability to deal with the many layers of government involved. Some individuals give up on the process simply because they become emotionally exhausted. However, with the right team working for a property owner, the stress is reduced, the process becomes more user friendly, and best of all, the financial rewards can be very significant.