Eminent domain is the power of the federal or state government (or its subunits) to take private property from a landowner for a public purpose. This power is granted by both the U.S. Constitution and the Colorado State Constitution, which requires the government to provide landowners with just compensation if it exercises a taking (also called a “condemnation.”)
An Expansive Definition of a “Public Purpose”
Through case law, the definition of what constitutes a “public purpose” has significantly expanded throughout the years. Perhaps surprisingly, even private businesses can exercise the power of eminent domain through the government if they can show that doing so would provide some type of public benefit. Examples of the kinds of private entities that may be able to exercise the power of eminent domain include:
- Oil and gas companies;
- Utility providers;
- Real estate developers; and
- Water companies.
Determining Just Compensation
In order to exercise its power of eminent domain, the government must negotiate the purchase price of land with the landowner. Generally, the government will conduct an appraisal and will make the landowner an offer based upon fair market value.
In many eminent domain cases, there is a significant disagreement between the government and the landowner regarding the fair market value of the land. When this occurs, the government may start an eminent domain proceeding in court requesting a judge determine the legitimacy of the proposed taking and determining what just compensation would be in a particular case.
Because of the complexity of the law surrounding eminent domain, the government is at a distinct advantage when attempting to take private property. For this reason, any landowner who is involved in an eminent domain case should retain an attorney as soon as possible. Doing so will ensure that you receive the full and fair value of your land and that you can defend against an illegal exercise of eminent domain if the government attempts one.
Contact a Denver Eminent Domain Lawyer Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation
The government’s attempt to exercise eminent domain is not always legitimate, and property owners need to make sure that they receive just compensation for their property if a sale is forced. Our skilled Denver eminent domain attorneys work hard to protect the rights of property owners and are committed to obtaining the best result for each client we represent. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call Robinson & Henry, P.C. today at 303-688-0944.