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What is eminent domain or condemnation?
Eminent domain, also known as condemnation, is the legal process used by the government or by other authorized entities, usually public utilities, to take private property for public use.  For example, if the state needs to build a road, it can take land for the road through eminent domain or condemnation.  The entity that takes the land is called the condemnor.  The United States Constitution requires all condemnors to pay just compensation to the owners of the property they take.
Can they really take my property, even I don’t agree to sell it?
In the vast majority of cases, there is no way to prevent the government or other condemnor from taking property.  However, you are entitled to just compensation for your land.  If the government will not agree to pay just compensation, you are entitled to have a jury of your peers determine the amount the condemnor must pay you.
Do I have to take the government’s (or utility’s) offer?
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT THE GOVERNMENT’S (OR OTHER CONDEMNOR’S) OFFER.  Many people mistakenly believe that they either must accept what the government is offering, or they will get no compensation at all.  This is simply not correct.  By law, you are entitled to just compensation, period.  If the government does not offer fair value for your property, you are entitled to have a jury determine the fair value of the property taken
What is the condemnation process?
The condemnation process is detailed here.
How long will the process take?
The length of time that the process takes depends on a number of factors.  Assuming that you do not agree with the condemnor’s assessment of the value of your property, the court process generally will take at least a year.  In the meantime, the condemnor must deposit its estimate of the fair value of what it is taking with the clerk of court.  If certain legal technicalities are met, you can take that money while the court process is on-going.
What am I entitled to?
The law says that a property owner whose land is taken by the government is entitled to just compensation.  Just compensation means the value of the property taken, valued at the property’s highest and best or most valuable use.  For example, a cow pasture that could be developed as an office park is valued as office park land, not as cow pasture. However, the property owner must prove that the land can, in fact, be used for an office park.

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