Property seizure law framework sails through legislature

Thursday , February 20, 2014 - 4:26 PM

Antone Clark, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

SALT LAKE CITY – A Top of Utah lawmaker’s effort to make adjustments to one of government’s most controversial tools — eminent domain — has sailed through both the House and Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Senate voted unanimously Thursday to approve HB 25, sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry. The bill updates language in the state code dealing with eminent domain and also established news guidelines that allow property owners greater access and engagement in the process.

The legislation allows a property owner to involve the State Ombudsman if a government entity or utility accesses property without proper authority and also allows a property owner to accompany an appraiser if an assessment of the value of property is called for as part of the eminent domain process.

Perry said the newly restructured bill tilts in favor of property owners. He said a look at eminent domain cases shows property owners who dispute property values in the appeal process often walk away with less money than they would have if they didn’t litigate the issue.

One provision in the bill allows people to request a statement of how appraisal values were determined.

A year-and-a-half in the process, Perry said he brought a lot of parties to the table in trying to find guidelines that work. He said no one side loved the changes, which he suggested showed the compromise was well crafted.

The bill sailed through the Senate with almost no discussion.

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