Although municipalities have the right to declare property, still guaranteeing the rights of private property owners is required. The initial goal is to obtain a negotiated settlement, and condemnation is the ultimate last resort, when there is nothing else left to do. When state or federal funds are involved, municipalities must follow legal procedures
According to Adam Hochfelder, real estate acquisition brings many challenges. For example, if municipalities somehow run out of time for real estate acquisition, they face losing grant funds, which mean they’ll have to wait for the next cycle to reapply. However, the largest threat whatsoever is probably the need to delay a project until the next construction season.
Some officials underestimate the challenges that come with private real estate acquisition. As Hochfelder advises, underestimating the importance of trees on someone’s property is never a good idea. Property owners are usually not happy about losing their trees, and such issues can lead to further negotiations. Improvements located in the right of way can include trees, landscaping, cemeteries, septic systems, signage, parking stalls and fencing. All of these things can potentially impact the landowner’s willingness to negotiate for the land and improvements being acquired. Delaying the acquisition process can impact the project’s budget and timeline. On the other hand, condemnation can be used for the purposes of highway construction or improvement, reservoirs, dams, public utility sites, waste treatment facilities, city redevelopment and energy lines.
Once officials realize that they need to acquire private land, they must inform private landowners with the details regarding their rights. After the landowners get an assessment from the acquiring authority, they have 60 days to ask for a second assessment at the municipality’s expense.
When a municipality plans a real estate acquisition, the best thing is to inform the landowners, and thus prevent last-minute surprises. For bigger projects, some officials send out newsletters, informing property owners of any significant issues. Simply announcing and conducting a public information meeting, often isn’t going to avoid problems. Additional public outreach is sometimes necessary.
From ownership to operation, Adam Hochfelder is continually expanding his real estate portfolio through the acquisition of properties and the development of new projects. He strives to create well-conceived, quality projects, and is committed to meeting the community’s needs.