Every year, government entities use eminent domain rights to claim land from private citizens and businesses around the state. One such project is a MnDOT project where they are currently considering layout options for a Hwy 169 in Elk River that would have a proposed completion date of 2023 to 2024. This project may significantly affect landowners and business owners along the highway in Elk River. A public information meeting is planned for the fall of 2019 to discuss the initial plan. The plan involves several controlled intersections being removed and new interchanges and access ramps being constructed.
If this project or something similar is going to affect you or your business, landowners and tenants have a number of important legal rights you should know. Even though construction is a few years off for the Hwy 169 project, being adequately prepared and knowing your rights for any project is an important first step. It is not unusual to see real estate and commercial sales affected, due to the uncertainty of the project.
What should you be prepared for and be looking for?
- A letter from a government entity explaining the project.
- Notice of a public meeting or hearing to explain the project and the options.
- Updates on the MnDOT website for upcoming projects, summary of work, & proposed dates.
In the early stages of a project, landowners do have legal rights that they should keep in mind. As each situation is different, please seek legal counsel to answer specific questions about your rights. The government entity does not have the right to trespass on your property but they may ask permission to do the following things during this stage.
Early stage rights?
- The government entity may want to inspect the property or do environmental tests. Landowners must give permission for the government entity to do these inspections.
- The land agent or government entity may want to interview the land owner about value, previous use of the property, and questions about your current business. Landowners do not need to agree to this interview and answer these questions at this time.
Once you become aware of a project that is moving forward and could affect your property, there are a number of things you should start doing immediately.
What should you do?
- Landowners should keep track of a drop in tenancies
- Keep track of decrease in business sales or profits
- Once you know if all or part of your property will be taken you should seek immediate legal advice.
You may be eligible to seek compensation beyond what the state offers for the value of your land. Below are a few examples but please seek legal counsel to see if any or all of these apply.
Other compensation opportunities:
- The condemning authority will be required to reimburse you for your appraisal expenses anywhere from $1,500 up to $5,000 and under some circumstances it could be higher.
- Compensation for construction interference that cause damage to your business
- Compensation for loss of access to your property
- Compensation for the decrease in value to the remaining part of your property that was not taken
Anyone who is concerned their land may be taken in an eminent domain case needs to get legal advice. The initial conference with an attorney will hopefully answer many of the questions you have regarding the entire process. It should also give you a better understanding of the rights to just compensation that may be available to you. For specific questions please contact attorney Mike Rajkowski at 320-251-1414.
Established more than 95 years ago, Quinlivan & Hughes ranks among the oldest and largest law practices in Central Minnesota. The full-service law firm has growing legal teams in the areas of employment law, business law, government law, insurance defense, trust and estate planning, and general litigation. Learn more at Quinlivan.com.