When The Project Matters

By: Edward G. Burg
– The Practical Real Estate Lawyer

Eminent domain presupposes that the government desires to acquire a property interest for a public project. The public project can be a road or a school or something far more exotic (think acquisition of an NFL team, as in City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders, 646 P.2d 835 (Cal. 1982), or acquisition for an integrated plan for economic development, as in Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469, 472 (2005).

But what happens when "the project" is vague or uncertain? Can the property owner defeat the condemnation? How can the owner show severance damages if the scope of the project isn't clear? And how will the concept of "project impacts" be applied when the exact nature of "the project" is unknown?

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