Government entities in Florida and around the country use the eminent domain process when property must be acquired to complete projects like schools or airports and the owners are unwilling to sell. Property owners are still compensated for the acquired land, but the price they receive is in many cases determined by commissions made up of officials rather than the market. Eminent domain is also used to acquire an interest in a parcel of land rather than the land itself.
These interests are known as easements, and they are acquired when government entities plan to lay water or sewer lines or run telephone or electric cables. In these situations, the property owner still owns the land and is paid for its use, but what they can do on their own property is restricted. Restrictions are necessary to ensure that the property owner does not engage in activity that could damage the infrastructure that runs below or over their land.
The most common easement restrictions prevent landowners from planting trees or erecting buildings near pipes or cables. Landowners are also required to allow workers and their equipment on their property to repair, extend or replace the infrastructure. Access must be granted whenever work has to be done, and landowners may not even be notified that workers will be arriving.
Eminent domain disputes
Emotions can run high when property owners are ordered to sell their land or allow government entities to use it, and eminent domain disputes often become contentious. When the price being offered for a property could be unfair or easement restrictions seem unreasonable, attorneys experienced in this area may advocate on behalf of property owners during negotiations, depositions and meetings and file lawsuits when an amicable agreement remains elusive. Attorneys could seek to add weight to their arguments by calling on environmental experts, appraisers, engineers or other specialists.