Domain services

The Netflix series “Ozark” and eminent domain

Antoine the alderman

If you’re a fan of Netflix’s “Ozark,” you might remember when eminent domain was introduced as a major plot device in season two. (If you haven’t seen the second season, please be aware that the following contains spoilers.) As a fan and reviewer, in this article, I would like to discuss how eminent domain was used in “Ozark ” and how can be used in the real world, especially with regards to water bodies and how evaluators get involved.

What is Eminent Domain?
Eminent domain refers to the right of government or municipalities to take private land for public use. The specific processes for eminent domain actions vary from state to state, and cases can get complicated, especially cases involving property rights to bodies of water.

How was it used in “Ozark”?
In the episode “Ozark” titled “The Badger”, protagonist and anti-hero Marty Byrde desperately searches for a way to get his business partners, the Snells, to agree to give him the right of way for his new casino boat. . After some digging, Marty informs the Snells that riparian rights and eminent domain could allow the government to seize land for the casino if the Snells don’t sell, as the casino could benefit the public. This does not sit well with the Snells – the insult is compounded by the fact that the Snell family ancestors had been forced off their land more than 75 years previously due to an action of eminent domain. Around this time, the land left by the Snell family was flooded to support the operations of a power company – a story that is not so far-fetched, considering the last hundred years in the United States.

Eminent domain and water in the real world
Floods for power generation: In the 20e century, lands across the United States were flooded by entities such as the United States Army Corps to provide water to nearby towns or to generate electricity (i.e. to public use). For example, in Connecticut, a valley was flooded to create Candlewood Lake in the western part of the state to generate electricity.

• Riparian Rights in Eastern States: In the eastern states of the United States, water laws, such as riparian rights featured in the episode “Ozark”, stipulate that people with property adjacent to water frontage have the right to access water, for example to build a quay, to fish, to hunt, to drink water and for irrigation. However, these operations must be carried out without infringing on the equal rights and access of other neighboring owners.

Waterway laws vary from state to state: In various parts of the United States, eminent domain can look very different. Interestingly, North Dakota law allows private citizens as well as corporations or government agencies to exercise eminent domain, allowing this power with respect to the “application of water for beneficial purposes.” This seems like a very broad category for such immense use of power. North Dakota assesses when an individual or group is using water beneficially. The state requires a water permit issued by a state engineer.

Environmental contamination and eminent domain: According to an analysis by the League of Michigan Conservation Voters, a 1990s court case involving a stormwater retention pond established that environmental contamination could be factored into the fair market valuation of property taken by the government under an estate. prominent. The analysis indicates that this incentivizes owners and buyers to limit environmental contamination on their own property and test for it when buying a property, and also ensures that governments have more funds to conduct post-conviction clearance activities.

How do evaluators get involved?
What role do commercial evaluators play in the eminent domain process? Appraisers are impartial third parties and are often called upon to inspect and appraise a property to be acquired through eminent domain procedures. Appraisers will make an objective appraisal of the property. The task is to determine the fair market value of the subject as if the project did not exist (before the take) and as if the project were 100% complete (after the take). Sometimes appraisers are asked to appear in court as expert witnesses when eminent domain cases come before the courts. In the “Ozark” example, it’s unlikely that the Snells challenged the eminent domain proceeding since all the characters involved were no good. But in the real world, property rights are a sensitive and complicated issue and elicit strong responses from landowners and the communities in which these projects take place. That’s why it’s essential to hire a third-party appraiser with expertise in right-of-way to appraise the property fairly and competently.

Anthony Alderman, MRICS, is a senior managing director in the valuation and advisory services line at Cushman & Wakefield, Stamford, Connecticut.