June 21, 2024


Mad about real estate

If your property is threatened by condemnation

Municipalities can acquire private property through the power of eminent domain.  Recently the Supreme Court reviewed whether a municipality can exercise that power to slow residential development.

In the case, defendant owned a tract zoned for residential use.  Defendant proposed to construct 23 single family homes in accordance with the zoning.

Defendant obtained final subdivision approval and did a significant amount of site preparation.

Thereafter, the municipal governing body decided to acquire defendant’s lands for open space.  When attempts at a voluntary acquisition failed, the municipality filed a notice of taking and sued in condemnation.

The landowner-developer resisted, claiming the real municipal purpose was not to increase open space, but to slow residential development.

The trial court agreed with the landowner and dismissed the condemnation proceedings.

The matter was reviewed by the Supreme Court.

YOU BE THE JUDGE: Can private property be condemned for open space and to slow development?

The Supreme Court observed that the preservation of open space was a legitimate governmental concern.  Further, it was not inconsistent with that concern if a municipality sought to slow residential growth to limit overcrowded schools, traffic congestion and environmental problems associated with development.

Of course, in condemnation, the landowner was entitled to the value of the lands with those subdivision approvals which had been obtained.

The decision points out that a courtroom can bring justice and may be the only way to protect your rights. We know courtrooms; we have harnessed the power of the law in courtrooms to bring justice for our clients for decades. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you in a new lawsuit or provide a “second opinion” about your pending lawsuit. There is no obligation for the initial consultation.

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