I regularly preach that a condemning authority must make sure the legal description in the resolution must match the legal description appraised by the appraiser, and must match the legal description in the petition in eminent domain. Pretty straight-forward.

A decision from this summer points out that the legal description must be clear, also.

In the Altman v Brevard County decision, the County used an easement description having two possible boundaries for one side of the easement. The Fifth District Court of Appeal found that the conflicting easement boundaries in the legal description rendered the County’s petition in eminent “fatally defective” and reversed the trial court’s order of taking.

In the Altman case, the offending legal description attached to the resolution specified an easement with a westerly boundary “at either the 14-foot elevation contour line or the seaward edge of the eroded dune bluff, depending on which was further seaward.” The appellate court said “the County should have determined which potential boundary line was further seaward and petitioned for an easement with that boundary line.”

The lesson for condemning authorities is clear: make sure that the legal description for the property has a single boundary, rather than multiple potential boundaries.

We regularly represent condemning authorities in eminent domain. If you need help with a project, please get in touch with us. I may be reached at carlos.kelly@henlaw.com or by phone at 239-344-1326.