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2002 Gubernatorial Election

Ballot Questions

Question Number 3 - Chapter 589 (House Bill 403)

Constitutional Amendment

Montgomery County - Eminent Domain - Licensed and Certified Real Estate Appraisers: Amends Section 40A of Article III (Legislative Department) of the Constitution of Maryland to authorize the Montgomery County Council to appoint a licensed and certified real estate appraiser to estimate the fair market value of property located in the county that is subject to immediate taking under the existing law of eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property for public use upon the payment of "just compensation" for the value of the property. Generally, in proceedings initiated by the State or a local government for the taking of private property, known as condemnation proceedings, compensation as agreed upon by the parties or awarded by a jury must be paid or tendered to the owner before the property may be taken. There are, however, exceptions in the constitution, commonly referred to as "quick take" authority, that allow the immediate taking of private property located in Baltimore City, Baltimore and Montgomery Counties, and the municipalities in Cecil County upon payment of the estimated fair market value of the property to the owner or into court. If a jury later awards a higher amount, the local government must pay the difference.

In Montgomery County, this quick take authority is limited to unimproved property (meaning that the property does not include any buildings). Further, the County Council must find that there is an immediate need for the property for right of way for county roads or streets. Currently, Article III, Section 40A of the Maryland Constitution authorizes the County Council to appoint a licensed real estate broker to estimate the property's fair market value. This proposal amends Section 40A to authorize the County Council to appoint either a licensed real estate broker or a licensed and certified real estate appraiser to estimate the fair market value of property that will be taken for public use under the county's quick take authority.

Since 1991, an individual must be licensed or certified by the State Commission of Real Estate Appraisers to perform most types of real estate appraisals in Maryland. Real estate brokers are licensed by the State Real Estate Commission. A broker's license entitles the holder to provide real estate brokerage services in the State, which include the buying, selling, and leasing of real estate. Most licensed brokers are not also licensed or certified as appraisers; therefore, Montgomery County has experienced difficulty in identifying licensed real estate brokers who are also properly qualified as appraisers to estimate the fair market value of property for purposes of its quick take process.