Water Company Considers Condemning Alabama Neighborhood

by: Michael Realbuto
25 Aug 2023

Many of the typical eminent domain cases involve circumstances where a condemnor (i.e., the taking authority) seeks to take a solitary parcel of property, or a portion of the same, to further a public project. So, when we catch wind of a story where a water company is seeking to seize a city neighborhood, it obviously catches our attention.

This story takes place in the Alabama Village neighborhood of Prichard, Alabama. According to the Alabama Department of Environmental Protection, excessive water leaks in and around Alabama Village are costing Prichard Water Works and Sewer Board approximately $222,000 per month or nearly $2.7 million per year. The leaks are due to several deteriorated pipes running through the area. The water company’s attorney claims that 42 properties in Alabama Village account for 18% of the water loss. According to municipal financial documents, the water company began the eminent domain process in May 2023 when it paid $38,000 for 38 individual appraisals in Alabama village.

According to a report by NBC 15 News, the unfortunate reality is that many of the local residents have called Alabama Village home for generations and that is where they intend to stay. The NBC 15 News story includes the following quotes from residents:

“This [is] where we live at. We can’t afford to go anywhere else. This is where we live at. Our children grew up here. I can’t afford to go nowhere else,” says one female resident.

“This where we been at for years,” says another female resident.

“Kick us out. That ain’t right. They don’t tell us anything,” says a male resident.

One of the most significant concerns raised by residents is the lack of similarly priced replacement housing. We will be sure to keep a eye on this story with the hope that the Prichard Water Works and Sewer Board justly compensates the property owners and guarantees that the residents receive adequate relocation assistance.

Since our firm specializes in New Jersey condemnation law, it is important to note that the Garden State provides relocation assistance to persons displaced by a governmental taking pursuant to the Relocation Assistance Act, N.J.S.A. 20:4-1 et seq. (state implementation of requirements of federal Uniform Relocation Assistance Law), the Relocation Assistance Law of 1967, N.J.S.A. 52:31(b)-1 et seq. (applicable to all displacements, including condemnation and code enforcement), and the Uniform Transportation Replacement Housing and Relocation Act, N.J.S.A. 27:7-72 (applicable to Department of Transportation and designed to meet current federal relocation requirements). Of course, the applicability of these statutes depends on whether the displaced person satisfies all statutory requirements. Indeed, a condemnor may not take title and exclusive possession of property and displace lawful occupants until effective relocation assistance is provided. Check out our blog here to learn more about relocation assistance.

For over 55 years, McKirdy, Riskin, Olson & DellaPelle, P.C. has concentrated its practice in this special area of the law and has earned a reputation for persistently defending its clients’ property rights. Our firm has successfully handled a broad range of eminent domain cases involving almost every type of property, including commercial buildings, industrial properties, development land, single and multi-family residential properties, hotels/casinos, oil/ gas pipelines, water rights and beachfront property, airports, farmland, and many more. If you are confronted with the threat of eminent domain, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation.