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Partial Taking: Exploring Eminent Domain’s Subcategory

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When a government agency such as the Department of Transportation proposes a project for public use or that benefits the public in any way, it may use its eminent domain authority to take private land necessary for the completion of the project while providing compensation for the landowners. But what happens if the government only wants a portion of your land? Learn how partial taking works and see why hiring an attorney may be crucial to defending your rights as a landowner.

What Is a Partial Taking in an Eminent Domain Case?

As the name says, a partial taking happens when the government only takes a portion of your land to make it possible to complete a project for public use. In practical terms, this could mean losing a portion of your front yard, a strip of land alongside a roadway, or even 90% of your land.

For example, suppose you own some farmland, and the property right next to yours has been sold to the city. The city is now building a new high school on that property, but it soon becomes clear that the school project will require building an access road connecting to the main road to make it easier for students, parents, and staff to access the school buildings. The only way to achieve this is by taking a portion of your land and using it to build the road. In this case, the government may be able to acquire the necessary portion of your land through a partial taking using its eminent domain authority.

What Happens if I Am Left With an Unusable Portion of Land After a Partial Taking?

In some cases, a partial taking may negatively impact the landowner by leaving behind a portion of the original property that is impossible to use for any practical applications. This can happen if the patch of land left behind by the government is too small or is configured in a way that does not allow for any type of development. This leftover land is referred to as an uneconomic remnant.

For example, let’s go back to our imaginary school construction project. After starting the school building construction, the government agency decided it would be beneficial to expand their project to include a gym and sports fields for the students, which would require taking a significant portion of your land, including your access to the main road. This would leave you with just 10% of your original property and no roadway access, making the leftover land an uneconomic remnant that has no practical purposes.

How Will the Value of My Property Be Determined if the Government Is Only Taking a Portion of It?

Calculating the value of a whole property is much easier than trying to figure out the value of portions of it. For that reason, partial taking appraisals usually take into consideration the value of the property that was acquired by the government and the loss of value of the remainder (the portion of land that was left after the partial taking).

In some cases, the owner left with a portion of land that is considered an uneconomic remnant may be able to seek severance damages, meaning the amount of just compensation they receive for their land includes the value of the land taken as well as the original value of the uneconomic remnant (before the rest of the land was acquired).

When Should I Speak to an Eminent Domain Lawyer?

In many partial taking cases, the method used to appraise the land may not truly reflect the negative impact of being left with an unusable patch of land. In this case, the landowner may be able to negotiate a better offer with the government, but this process is not simple and requires the help of a skilled attorney to help you prove your case.

At Hansen, Howell & Wilkie, PLLC, our attorneys have helped countless property owners to protect their rights to just compensation after having a portion of their land taken by the government. Our attorneys have the legal knowledge to navigate eminent domain cases of any complexity. Call our firm at 984 205 8453 to discuss your case and learn how we can help.

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