City can take property for 'just compensation'

Mailbag

June 07, 1998

Dear Mr. Azrael:

I would like some information on how the city can force a property owner out of their property if they refuse to sell it.

I recently attended a meeting for a cousin of mine because she had received a letter from the city for acquisition of her property to make way for the new 260 family homes known as the Julian Murphy Garden.

I never received notice for my house, but learned at the meeting that the 1000 block of Argyle Avenue may be torn down, too. Please explain this matter to me.

Mirdies O. Parrott

Baltimore

Dear Ms. Parrott:

Article III, Section 40A governs the type of condemnation by Baltimore that you describe in your letter. The city may take private property only "for public use" and only upon payment of "just compensation" to the party entitled to such compensation.

"Public use" includes projects that are reasonably designed to benefit the public, but does not require that the public have access to the property. If you believe that the taking is not "for public use," then you can challenge the city's action as an unlawful taking. This is a complicated legal proceeding, and you should consider engaging an attorney to assist you.

"Just compensation" is determined either by consent or by jury award. "Just compensation" is usually synonymous with fair market value. If you believe that the compensation offered by the city is not "just," you have the right to have a jury trial to determine "just compensation."

Pub Date: 6/07/98

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