Under Minnesota law, the county may acquire property, including fee title acquisitions, permanent easements and temporary easements, by direct purchase or eminent domain proceedings (sometimes referred to as condemnation).
The county will notify you by mail if the county is interested in acquiring your property. A survey crew will enter your land to obtain information for the development of the proposed improvements.
The county will send a certified appraiser to make an appraisal of your property rights before negotiations begin. You or your representative will be given the opportunity to accompany the appraiser.
In most cases, the county will not need to purchase the actual property but will need to purchase certain “rights” from the property. These rights may include highway or trail easements, drainage and utility easements, temporary construction easements, etc.
The appraisal will be based primarily on studies of recent sales of property in your vicinity. In some instances, if the county determines there are minimal damages to the property, a short form appraisal or minimum damage assessment will be prepared.
The county will make an offer to purchase the property for the full amount it has determined to be just compensation. A written statement will be provided to you that will include the amount offered and an explanation of the basis for determining this amount. In cases where only a part of the property is to be acquired, the statement will separate the amount of compensation to be paid for the property being acquired and the amount (if any) for damages to the remainder.
The county will make every reasonable effort to avoid litigation by acquiring your required property interest through direct negotiation.
You will have a reasonable length of time to consider the offer to purchase. To aid in your decision, you may wish to secure your own appraisal. Minnesota law provides for reimbursement of your appraisal costs by the county as follows:
- The appraisal reimbursement can be up to $1,500 for acquisitions from any property type appraised by the county's independent certified appraiser at $25,000 or less,or
- The appraisal reimbursement can be up to $1,500 for acquisitions from properties that are single family or two-family residential properties, or
- The appraisal reimbursement can be up to $5,000 for all other acquisitions not falling within the categories stated in paragraphs 1 and 2.
The county must pay the reimbursement to you or your appraiser within 30 days after receiving a copy of the appraisal and reimbursement information.
If an agreement cannot be reached on the purchase of your property, the county will acquire the required property interest by the exercise of the power of eminent domain. If a situation such as this does occur, the county will institute formal condemnation proceedings.
The court will appoint three qualified and impartial persons to act as commissioners. The commissioners will view each property, hold valuation hearings and determine the damages that the property will, in their opinion, sustain as a result of the acquisition. The chair of the commission, who presides over the hearings, will invite you to express your opinion as to the amount of damages you feel your property has sustained and to furnish such evidence for purposes of assisting the commissioners in determining an award of damages. You may represent yourself at these hearings or you may choose to be represented by an attorney. You should understand that you bear the cost of any attorney’s fees. Whether or not you hire an attorney is your decision.
Under eminent domain procedures, the commissioners may award reasonable owner appraisal fees (as indicated above), provided the appraisal fee was not previously reimbursed.
For more information, see the
Acquisition Summary Guide or contact Right of Way Specialists: