Partial Takings in Eminent Domain: The Larger Parcel

In this upcoming blog series, we’ll be discussing partial takings in eminent domain cases.    A partial taking occurs when the condemning authority only acquires a portion of the property, not the entire parcel.  The portion of the property that is left is known as the remainder. The value of the land and any improvements to the land which are actually taken in an eminent domain proceeding are known as the direct damages, and the value of the remainder parcel is known as the severance damages.

When calculating just compensation in partial taking eminent domain cases, we previously discussed determining the value of the parcel before and subtracting from it the value of the remainder parcel, a valuation concept known as the “before and after rule”.  In determining the value of the before parcel, there is a term commonly referred to as the larger parcel, which signifies that the parcel taken is not a complete parcel but part of a ‘larger parcel’; the owner, therefore is entitled to severance damages as well as the value of the parcel taken. The larger parcel should encompass all of the land that will be negatively affected by the partial taking. In determining the larger parcel in an eminent domain taking, the three unities are used, which will be explained in our next article on partial takings in eminent domain.

This larger parcel concept plays an important role in the calculation of just compensation in a partial taking eminent domain case.  Let’s say for example a condemning authority needs to acquire 5 acres of land from a property owner.  If the Larger parcel is 240 acres, the per acre before value will be significantly less than if the larger parcel were only 20 acres.  The determination of the larger parcel in the before situation is very critical because it will help establish the unitary value of the portion of land acquired in the before and after analysis.

Determining the larger parcel is not always obvious.  There are different analyses used when identifying the larger parcel for the property owner.  Sometimes it will be more advantageous for the larger parcel to be bigger; in other situations, the larger parcel might be smaller.  It’s important for property owners affected by a partial taking eminent domain case to make sure the correct larger parcel is utilized for their particular case.

In our next article, we’ll discuss the three unities and their importance in establishing the larger parcel.

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