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Law of the Land

Government interest in your property could bring business to a screeching halt. Know how to work the system for the best deal.

This story appears in the June 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Bad news. Your brother just overheard two regional planners having a discussion about a proposed freeway access ramp, and it seems they want to run it right through your store. "No way!" you cry. "They can't do that to me!"

Well, yes, they can. Under the legal principle of "eminent domain," the government has a right to take private property from you when it's needed for a public purpose. If a federal, state or local government wants to widen a road or build a new city hall and needs your property to do it, it has a right to force you to sell. You do have a right to fair compensation, but you might not agree with what the government offers to pay.

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