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Summary of the Kentucky Eminent Domain Law

Few issues evoke such strong opposition as the taking of private land through eminent domain for a public use. When it comes to eminent domain, the government is playing in their arena; they do this every day. They know what the rules are, they know how the rules affect them and they know how the rules affect property owners. If the government is taking your land, make sure that you become informed so that you know what you can and cannot do.

Your initial question might be, can I stop the process? In most cases, you won’t be able to prevent the government from acquiring your land, but you are entitled to just compensation under eminent domain law. Learn more about eminent domain generally and what you’re entitled to receive, or continue through to learn about the Kentucky eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a Kentucky eminent domain attorney.

We are a nationwide eminent domain law firm that only represents property owners, never the government or condemning authority. Although we don’t have a physical office in Kentucky, our attorneys have experience defending condemnation matters on behalf of Kentucky landowners.

Cumberland Gap in KY

Kentucky Eminent Domain Process

In the state of Kentucky, the eminent domain process can only be stopped if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public purpose or public necessity. If you have determined that the proposed taking does meet these requirements, then you should learn more about the Kentucky eminent domain process.

Remember, even if the government has the right to condemn your property, they cannot dictate the price they are willing to pay; compensation is determined by the highest and best use laws for your property.

KY-flowchart

The majority of eminent domain cases in Kentucky meet the requirement for public purpose and necessity. Examples of cases that meet these criteria are: property acquisition for highway improvement projects, and acquisitions for utility projects such as installation of power lines and sewer systems. If the taking of your property meets the requirements for public purpose or public necessity, then continue reading to learn more about the eminent domain process in the state of Kentucky. Please note that there are extended explanations for all of the numbered sections in the flow chart. Additionally, links to specific state statues are also provided, where applicable. Please be aware that the flow chart and explanations are simply an overview of the process and should not be used as a tool to take matters into your own hands.

If you have questions regarding the eminent domain process in Kentucky, contact us for more information. The eminent domain process in the state of Kentucky is complicated, and if you are undergoing eminent domain and want to make sure you are justly compensated, you should speak to an eminent domain attorney. Speaking to an eminent domain attorney regarding your case will keep you informed of your rights, the eminent domain process, and whether or not your attorney’s fees will be paid for by the state of Kentucky.

Kentucky Property Rights

The eminent domain abuse dialogue often centers on policy issues involving the right to take property for economic development and blight. Since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London in 2005, many states have taken measures to help curb eminent domain abuse. Some states were very successful at passing meaningful reform, and other states failed to pass any legislation at all. Most states fall in the middle by passing legislation that looks good on paper but does little to level the playing field between property owners and the government.

Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership.  The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity.  While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.

The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws.  The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain. The Castle Coalition gave a letter grade of a D+ to the state of Kentucky for their property rights, here is what they said:

“In 2006, Kentucky’s Legislature did pass a bill that modified the state’s eminent domain laws, but those changes did not fix even the most basic problems with its laws. Even after adopting House Bill 508, Kentucky still allows non-blighted property to be condemned even if the state does not intend to own or occupy the property, and its statutory language could even allow condemned property to be handed over to other private parties. In addition, Kentucky’s eminent domain laws leave in place the common blight loophole that, due to an extremely broad definition of what can be considered blighted or “slum” areas, could permit the taking of entire neighborhoods of well-maintained homes.”

“Without further reforms, Kentuckians will continue to live under the threat that their homes, businesses, farms, and houses of worship could be taken for someone else’s private gain. The Legislature should more carefully hone the definition of public use to only include traditional public uses, close the blight loophole by adopting narrow and objective standards based on threats to the health and safety of the community, require blight to be assessed on a parcel-by-parcel basis, and adopt a constitutional amendment that defines public use and prohibits the use of eminent domain to transfer property from one private person to another.”

Castle Coalition

Hiring an Eminent Domain Attorney in Kentucky

If your instincts tell you that the offer from the government is low, then it probably is. However, determining just compensation often requires an attorney to identify damages and help guide you through the Kentucky eminent domain process. Additionally, other experts are needed such as an appraiser and maybe an engineer or planner to provide evidence and expert testimony on your behalf.

Most eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk for earning a fee. Property owners are generally only responsible for paying costs, with the primary cost being the appraiser who values the property. Because of the contingent fee structure, most eminent domain attorneys will conduct a free case evaluation for property owners prior to recommending representation.

If you’re affected by eminent domain, you should obtain a consultation so that you know and understand your rights before taking any action. Remember, the government is like any buyer, they will want to purchase your property as cheaply as possible, and their appraisers may neglect to consider damages that can lead to a larger amount of just compensation.

Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. Make sure you consult with an eminent domain trial attorney who can effectively identify damages and select the necessary experts. Your attorney should also be able to properly interface with the condemning authority and be willing to take your case to trial if negotiations can not be reached. 

Summary

The little legislative reform that the state of Kentucky has seen has not helped curb eminent domain abuse, and leaves privately owned homes and businesses open to the threat of unjust takings. The state needs to get the loopholes closed by including a more narrow definition of blighted, parcel by parcel evaluation of so-called blighted areas, and the elimination of private to private property transfers. If this is seen, private property owners in Kentucky will surely be protected.

Contact Us

Questions about Kentucky Eminent Domain Law or if you’re interested in a free consultation, contact us today! If you want to call us, our main number is 866-339-7242. We look forward to hearing from you.