The State of New Jersey, the Borough of Harvey Cedars, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers were all preparingfor an event like Hurricane Sandy years before the 2012 super-storm made landfall along the Mid-Atlantic coast. The governments began, for instance, a major dune restoration project in 2005 in order to protect the New Jersey coast from massive storm surges that could destroy homes and businesses. To carry out the effort, the local governments sought to purchase the right to build along the seaward portion of property owners’ land, and would then construct roughly twenty-foot-high, thirty-foot-wide dunes. If the government and the landowner could not agree on a price or the landowner refused to sell, the government would acquire the necessary strip of property using eminent domain: the right of government to take private property for public use as long as it offers just compensation.
This Article is about the proper way to calculate just compensation when government partially takes private property for a use that provides a degree of benefit to the remaining property.
Joshua Ulan Galperin is a Clinical Director and Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, lecturer and Environmental Law and Policy Program Director at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.