We have substantial experience and skill in the representation of industrial, commercial, and residential clients whose property has been targeted for acquisition by a governmental entity. Over the past decade, we have represented numerous property owners in connection with virtually every major transportation project in the State. We also have represented many owners whose properties were taken by the State Schools Construction Corporation.
Initially, we review the project to determine whether the taking is for a public purpose and whether the process employed by the governmental entity has “turned square corners” with the owner as required in this area. This is particularly so in the area of takings of “blighted” areas in the context of redevelopment law, where recent State case law has increased significantly the rights of property owners to contest the right to take.
In the case of partial takings (such as roadway widening), we pay particular attention to any modifications to site access sought by the taking entity, and, where appropriate, we attempt to negotiate other access point(s) which will suit the client’s needs.
In most cases, the ultimate issue is the amount of the compensation paid to the property owner. For total takings, the issue is the value of the entire parcel of property taken. We work with an experienced appraiser to insure that the property owner receives the full “just compensation,” which the Federal and State constitutions require.
In the case of partial takings, the matter is more complicated. In addition to the value of the lands taken, the property owner is also entitled to its "damage to the remainder", also called severance damages. For example, in the case of the widening of a roadway, how does that widening affect the site plan of the remaining lands that were not taken and thereby reduce the value of those remaining lands? In this important area, our expertise in land use law supports and augments our eminent domain practice. We have had substantial success in resolving cases for substantially more than the initial offer based upon our ability to prove that the condemning authority did not understand the site plan implications of the taking and so underestimated the extent of the damage to the remainder.