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Supreme Court Issues First Ruling on Regulatory Takings

Supreme Court Issues First Ruling on Regulatory Takings

Recently, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the State Constitution, like the United States Constitution, requires the government to compensate private property owners when governmental restrictions, regulations, or decisions take or interfere with private property interests.  See Mack Phillips et al. v. Montgomery County, No. M2012-00737-SC-R11-CV, 2014 WL 4056698 (Tenn., August 18, 2014).


Tennessee’s Constitution provides that “no man’s particular services shall be demanded, or property taken, or applied to public use, without the consent of his representatives, or without just compensation being made therefore.” Tenn. Const. art. 1, § 21.


The “public use” of private property can take many forms; the taking of property for utility poles and roads are both common examples of an eminent domain for public use.  The Phillips ruling came in the case of a couple that sought to subdivide property they own near Clarksville.  After the local planning commission denied their request, the couple filed suit.  Though the Court has addressed physical occupation and nuisance takings, it had not previously ruled on so-called “regulatory takings,” which occur when government regulations or actions interfere with owners’ use of their property.


In Tennessee, courts have interpreted the “just compensation” requirement to mean that the government must make an initial offer that is “reasonable,” but the definition of reasonable is extremely vague.  Usually, the government will obtain an appraisal to determine the amount of money to be paid for the taking of your property.  The government will approach you about purchasing your land and provide you with an offer.  You can either accept the offer or decline it.  Although it has no obligation to do so, the government may consider raising the price.  At the end of the day, if the government wants the land for a legitimate public use, then it will more than likely take it.


Eminent domain law in Tennessee provides a process for disputing a proposed taking and the amount of money the government wishes to pay for the same.  If you wish to dispute a taking or the amount paid, then consult with an attorney.  Ultimately, in order to prove you are entitled to more money than the government is willing to pay for your property, it may be necessary to engage an appraiser or other real estate expert to evaluate your land.


Read the opinion in Mack Phillips et al. v. Montgomery County.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm and is filed under Updates. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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