The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority set in motion plans to construct a turnpike and extend an existing toll road in Norman, OK. While these changes come with benefits, for those property owners in the pathway of the planned construction, there are other implications.
Specifically, you fall under the eminent domain policy. This allows the government to acquire private property if the use of the said property is for the public’s good. Essentially, you have no choice but to sell your property. However, this does not mean there is no room for negotiation of any kind.
How does the property acquisition work?
Before turning to eminent domain, the turnpike authority contracts with an independent certified appraiser, who determines the value of the property. Based on this, the authority makes an offer to you. You do not have to accept this offer. You may hire your own appraiser to prepare a report and counter with a price of your own. However, if you and the authority are unable to reach an agreement, the authority may petition for condemnation of your land under eminent domain. Once granted by the court, the authority may seize your land. You receive compensation, but the amount is up to the court and not you.
How does the court determine what is “fair”?
The court appoints three impartial property owners as commissioners who come up with the amount for the “award” that the court offers for the property. Rejection of this leads to a jury trial, which may lead to the amount going up or down. In the former case, there is room to recover certain amounts, but in the latter case, you may have to pay for court costs.
Eminent domain law means you have to part with your property. However, there is room for you to negotiate.