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Eminent Domain Archives

Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides eminent domain case


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that a state law that allows for the seizure of private lands by companies for certain natural gas projects is unconstitutional. The ruling was unanimous and may have a significant impact on one of the biggest proposed pipelines in the state. The original rule from 2012 permitted any company the authority to take private land for the purposes of storing natural gas underground using the eminent domain process.

Pennsylvania landowners appeal natural gas pipeline decision


There are a variety of important concerns that arise in situations of eminent domain; one of these dictates when private land can be taken for public use and how the owners should be properly compensated. A natural gas company recently received permission from a Pennsylvania court to run a liquid natural gas pipeline under the farmland of three Pennsylvania farms. The natural gas pipeline was granted the power of eminent domain to take a portion of the land for the pipeline project. The property owners, however, recently filed an appeal of the court's decision, which allowed condemnation of their property.

Different ways to appraise real property


Determining the value of real property is essential to many business activities. Among the most frequent such activities are buying and selling property, lending money secured by a mortgage on real property, settling a probate estate or determining the value of property that is subject to eminent domain proceedings. The appraisal industry in Philadelphia and elsewhere has established uniform standards for conducting appraisals of real property, and while this brief blog post cannot cover the entire field, a summary of essential techniques can be quite useful.

Pipeline gains victory, landowners promise an appeal


This blog has written several times about the legal and environmental issues swirling around Sunoco Logistics' plans to construct the Mariner East 3 Pipeline across Pennsylvania to the Delaware River just north of Philadelphia. Landowners in the path of the pipeline have voiced numerous objections to the environmental cost of the pipeline and the negotiating tactics used by Sunoco to acquire right-of-way for the pipeline. Now, a judge in Lebanon County has granted a significant victory to Sunoco.

Severance damages in Pennsylvania


Most property owners in Pennsylvania understand that the state has the power to force them to sell their land to it so long as they receive "just compensation." But what happens when the state (or any other entity with the power of eminent domain) wants to condemn only a portion of an owner's property? What happens, say, if the portion taken by the state leaves the remaining portion without access to a public street? Or what happens if the remaining portion is too small or so irregularly shaped that it has little or no remaining profitable use? Can an owner recover just compensation for these adverse impacts?

Judge allows suit to stop Mariner East 2 Pipeline to move forward


This blog has previously written about the real estate litigation involving the Mariner East 2 pipeline proposed to be built across south Pennsylvania to a port on the Delaware River north of Philadelphia. Many local residents have expressed strong opposition to the natural gas pipeline, claiming that it will have significant adverse environmental impacts without offsetting benefits to local communities. One of the central legal issues in the case is whether the builder of the pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, may use Pennsylvania's eminent domain law to compel local land owners to sell their land to enable pipeline construction.

Sunoco pipeline faces opposition in eastern Pennsylvania


Sunoco Logistics, LLP, a large petroleum and natural gas pipeline company, is going ahead with plans to begin construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline from West Virginia across southern Pennsylvania to its terminal at Marcus Hook on the Delaware River north of Philadelphia. While most of the pipeline's route lies in open country, the pipeline must pass through densely populated residential areas before it can reach its planned terminus. Acquiring right-of-way in these areas is posing financial, legal and public relations problems for the pipeline company, and it is taking steps to avoid costly eminent domain proceedings.

Pennsylvania challenge company's condemnation claim


Property owners have important rights associated with the condemnation process. Two Pennsylvania residents are challenging the planned oil pipeline that would cut through their property. The proposed pipeline would carry natural gas liquid, including propane, methane and butane. In addition, the proposed pipeline is intended to transport natural gas liquids removed from hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania and will run along the border of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Eastern Ohio. The natural gas company offered the couple $14,000 for 3 acres of their land but the couple refused the offer.

Relocation damages in eminent domain proceedings


Most Pennsylvania property owners are aware that, if their property is taken by a public agency under the power of eminent domain, they are entitled receive just compensation for their real estate. Just compensation is most often defined as the "fair market value of the property." But what about the expense of relocating a business or a home? Can these expenses be recovered as part of the eminent domain process?

City council okays used of eminent domain for Sharswood project


Eminent domain, or "condemnation," as it is often called, is a legal process that a government agency can use to compel land owners to sell their properties for use in a so-called "public improvement." One of the most frequent uses of the process allows municipal government to acquire urban land for redevelopment. In order to invoke eminent domain for this purpose, Pennsylvania laws require that the land satisfied the statutory definition of "blighted". The entire definition is too long to quote or adequately summarize in this blog, but its essential meaning is that the land in question is abandoned, defective, unmarketable or tax delinquent. Multiple units may be acquired if a majority of them are "blighted."

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