We’ve put together some explanations of common terms and scenarios in government representation:

What is eminent domain?

Eminent domain is the process by which the government takes private property for public use.  Since 2006, Minnesota has interpreted eminent domain to mean that eminent domain can only be used for a public use or purpose.  If a government entity, whether the state or a city or township, takes private property, the owner must be compensated with damages that are sufficient for an owner to purchase a comparable property within that community.

What is annexation?

Annexation is the process by which a city government expands the city limits.  Typically the city expands into adjacent areas that are not incorporated.  Through annexation, cities and townships are able to grow.

The process of annexation is difficult, as there are negotiations that need to be conducted with the areas the city or township wants to expand into.  Government representation attorneys typically conduct these negotiations on behalf of the cities and townships.

When do public utility issues arise?

Issues with public utilities can arise in common every day real estate transactions.  When purchasing a piece of property, buyers can run into public right-of-way utility issues.  Before purchasing property with a right-of-way for a public utility, buyers should contact an attorney to research the terms of the right-of-way which can impact the future value of the property.  Buyers who purchase property with right-of-way for public utilities may not be able to expand on their property in certain ways or build on it.

What is environment law?

Environmental issues can arise in many different types of transactions, including the sale of real estate and the sale or purchase of a business.  Additionally, sometimes businesses can receive fines or warnings from the EPA or other environmental regulatory agencies.   Environmental law can include assistance in obtaining permits, complying with statues regarding waste, air and water pollutions and dealing with zoning boards and extending sewers.

How do attorneys help cities with government relations?

Government relations law consists of attorney helping clients, such as cities and townships, interpret legislation, monitor current legislation’s, draft legislation to support the city or township and assist in preparing federal and state documents to meet state and federal requirements.

Government relations law is also sometimes referred to as government affairs. Attorneys who handle these types of issues usually handle drafting of ordinances, local regulations and city planning.

What are labor relations?

Cities and townships face complex issues with employees.  Many state and city workers are members of unions, which mean that before the employer can terminate or take another action against the employee, they must follow certain union rules that have been set out in a contract negotiated between union labor and the municipality.  These contracts between labor and the government agency typically come up for re-negotiation every couple of years.

Labor relations attorneys typically negotiate contracts on behalf of the state, city or township or they represent the labor union on behalf of labor. Both sides spend many months preparing for negotiations and addressing issues that may arise for negotiation.

What is land use?

Land use consists of assisting land developers, property owners and real estate buyers and sellers who want to develop projects.  Land use refers to how a piece of property is set up for use.  For example, land can be designated for residential housing only, or for mixed use, or can be zoned for industrial purposes. How land is zoned impacts how it can be used and built upon.
Land use attorneys help with the purchase of commercial buildings, condominium units, drafting of deeds for both residential and commercial purchase agreement and research of deeds.  Additionally, land use attorney can help resolve disputes that arise from the sale and purchase of land.

What is construction law?

Construction law consists of any dispute arising from remodeling or building projects.  Typical issues that can arise include poor constructions, issues with insurance, subcontractors walking off the job, injuries to workers or visitors to construction sites.
Construction law attorneys may assist creditors, banks, construction employees, subcontractors, building and property owners or insurance companies.  Construction law attorneys have expertise in mechanic’s liens, bonds, contracts and personal injury and deal with the complexities involved in building.