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Eminent domain a hot topic not just in Philadelphia

Since late last year, we've been following the ongoing eminent domain dispute involving Philadelphia artist James Dupree. But Dupree's case isn't the only one making national headlines. Eminent domain, whereby private property can be acquired by the government for public use, is a point of dispute in a number of high-profile cases across the United States.

In Nebraska and Kansas, landowners have fought against TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline. The Canadian firm wants control of private lands owned by ranchers and farmers to push the project through. Likewise, in New York City, business owners in the Willets Point neighborhood are still fighting an eminent domain action aimed at developing a large shopping mall.

The Fifth Amendment allows for the use of eminent domain to promote or protect the public good. However, the meaning of "public good" may be a point of contention, and often eminent domain disputes come down to the separate valuations provided by the government and the property owner.

For example, in the Dupree case, the artist is asking for $2.2 million in compensation for his property. The city's offer currently stands at $640,000. As you can imagine, negotiations are extremely important in these matters.

If the government wants to use eminent domain to take the land where your business is located, then it is in your interest to maximize your compensation, as well as your relocation benefits. In addition, it important to have an attorney who can get your property professionally appraised and analyze the government's appraisal for flaws.

Source: CNBC, "Eminent domain: Whose land is it anyway?" Mark Koba, April 15, 2014

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