Because of the significant impact of eminent domain on the lives of everyday people, it is important for property owners to understand the nature and scope of the government's power to take property. Eminent domain refers to the government's ability to take private property for a public use.
Public uses that property may be taken for include improvements to roadways, sewer and power lines, communications and other systems as well. Under the law, the government may take private party in certain instances for a public use but are required to fairly compensate the property owner for the taking. This is referred to as a taking of property.
When the government has identified property for a taking, they will work to appraise the land and will make the property owner an offer for their land based on that appraisal. Likewise, the property owner will want to have the property valued. If the property owner disagrees with the valuation provided by the government for their property, or wishes to dispute the alleged public use for the property, the property owner has the right to do so. Those concerns may form the basis of a challenge to the proposed taking of their property.
Whenever the government exercises its eminent domain power, private property rights can be threatened. As a result, it is essential for private property owners to be familiar with their rights, the government's eminent domain power and the limits of the that power as well. Property owners should always know how to challenge a taking of property.