Upper Midwest Eminent Domain Attorneys
What is Eminent Domain / Condemnation?
There are several examples of condemnation and takings that occur quite frequently: municipalities or the state taking a person's property to expand or build a road, school districts taking property to build a school, utility companies taking property with public authority to build or expand a gas pipeline or transmission line, and property taken for urban renewal.
Can my Property be Taken for Non-Governmental Purpose?
Despite restrictions on takings, private utility companies nevertheless maintain authority to condemn private property to install, maintain and expand oil and gas pipelines and high voltage transmission lines because such purposes are considered in the public's best interest. Dealing with representatives from large utility companies can be challenging and intimidating to many landowners. Private utility companies pose a significant threat to property owners' constitutional property rights.
How does Condemnation Work?
When a landowner refuses an offer to sell land or give an easement, the condemnor will give what is called a "jurisdictional offer," which is the condemnor's final offer price for the land. If the landowner does not accept this offer within twenty days, the condemnor brings a lawsuit with the Condemnation Commission in the county where the land is located. The Condemnation Commission is made up of a group of people from the county who will determine what they believe is the just compensation for the taking.
Condemnation Commissions usually hold hearings within a few months of the landowner's rejection of the jurisdictional offer. Hearings are like court trials in many ways, though they lack some of the formalities of courts. If a landowner or the condemnor disagree with a Commission award of compensation, either may appeal the award to a court and have a formal jury trial. At present in Wisconsin, a party has sixty days to appeal a Condemnation Commission award on just compensation.
What is Just Compensation?
The Wisconsin legislature has acknowledged through Chapter 32 that landowners are also entitled to recover costs and fees associated with litigating a condemnation offer and judgment when the condemnor issues an inequitably low jurisdictional offer. Such litigation costs include attorneys fees; therefore, landowners are encouraged by statute to hire an attorney to handle their condemnation matters, especially when they receive a low offer for their land.
When Should a Property Owner Consider Hiring an Attorney?
Usually, the legal battle is in regards to just compensation. However, landowners should be aware of other potential concerns. First, in some cases, the battle is not over the value of the land to be taken, but rather whether the taking is truly for the public good and whether the condemning authority should be allowed to take the targeted land. In many cases, a landowner's property is taken or the value of the property is diminished by government action. In these instances, landowners will often pursue what is called "inverse condemnation" actions to acquire just compensation.
Furthremore, utility companies will attempt to have landowners sign easements granting the utility company the right to install a certain size utility line or lines within a certain boundary. Often, the easements give utility companies powers greatly in excess of what is needed to complete the current project. If the given powers are too great, the utility companies will often assert a right to expand the use or size of a line in the future without compensating a landowner for such expansion. This can greatly diminish a landowner's property value. Lastly, the tax law regarding condemnation awards is quite complex, and landowners often are surprised to find out that they owe tax after their land has been condemned. Arranging an agreement or award in a certain manner can eliminate such adverse tax consequences.
The key for landowners is knowing that they have rights. Attorneys can make a substantial difference for landowners. Attorneys can advise them of their rights, thereby avoiding the landowner from signing an inequitable deal before condemnation, missing a deadline to appeal a Condemnation Commission ruling or facing adverse tax consequences. Furthermore, because they have experience dealing with government bodies and utility representatives, they often can compel condemnors to issue an equitable offer, thereby eliminating potentially time consuming, expensive and stressful formal condemnation proceedings. It has been our experience and the experience of many others in our field that landowners who hire attorneys will recover substantially more than those who try to fight their own battles.
Start fighting back against condemnation. Contact us right away.
We represent property owners in Wisconsin, Minnesota, the UP of Michigan and nationwide.
We are the eminent domain litigation lawyers of Niebler, Pyzyk, Roth & Carrig, LLP, in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. For more than thirty years, our attorneys have been helping property owners protect their Constitutional rights against illegal seizure of their property by federal, state, or local government entities and large utility companies. We have become recognized as one of the leading law firms in the Upper Midwest for our special focus on condemnation law, always on the side of property owners. We aggressively challenge the government's rights under existing eminent domain law. We have also taken a leading role in getting community condemnation laws changed to provide increased protections for property owners. When eminent domain laws threaten your private property rights, we will help you fight to receive the true market value of your land.
Attorney Robert W. Roth has the experience to handle any of your condemnation/eminent domain takings and concerns. Attorney Roth has been involved in some of the most important and influential condemnation cases in Wisconsin, such as Arents v. ARN Pipeline Co., 696 N.W.2d 194 (Wis. App. 2005) and Hoekstra v. Guardian Pipeline, LLC, 726 N.W.2d 648 (Wis. App. 2006).
In addition to protecting the rights of individual or corporate property owners, we also defend land appraisers who have their fair appraisal value called into question or ignored by government entities. We have the experience, the reputation, and the resources available to develop and present a strong case for fair appraisal value.
Land use ▪ Zoning ordinances ▪ Inverse condemnation ▪ Easement/Right-of-way disputes
Contact our offices in Menomonee Falls, Waukesha County, Wisconsin, to learn more about how we can help protect your rights and your market value from government entities taking advantage of eminent domain laws. We fight condemnation on behalf of property owners nationwide.
For more information, see Land Rights Wisconsin.