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July 18th, 2016 — By — In Articles

While One State Seeks to Limit Powers, Another Seeks to Reinvigorate Use of Eminent Domain

Since the infamous 2005 Supreme Court Kelo decision, many have watched as state and federal legislators across the country consider a variety of laws relating to eminent domain and property rights. Some of these laws have specific purposes – such as the APPROVAL Act that Arkansas’s congressional delegation proposed in 2015 – while others are intended to more broadly restrict or expand the government’s power to condemn private land. Two recently-proposed bills on opposite sides of the country fall into this latter category, albeit with diametrically opposite aims.

Constitutional Amendment Proposed in North Carolina to Limit Use of Eminent Domain

In North Carolina, legislators have proposed a constitutional amendment in the form of House Bill 3 that would prohibit the exercise of eminent domain for anything other than a “public use.” In Kelo v. City of New London, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could condemn private property and transfer that property to another private party for purposes of “economic development.” Since then lawmakers who support private property rights have been fighting to scale back this significant and controversial expansion of the power of eminent domain.

House Bill 3 is the North Carolina House of Representatives’ fifth attempt to curtail the effects of Kelo v. City of New London. Along with limiting the exercise of eminent domain to condemnations for “public use,” the proposed amendment would also entitle property owners to request that a jury determine the amount of just compensation to be paid for the taking of their private property.

California Bill Would Reauthorize “Redevelopment Agencies” Capable of Exercising Eminent Domain

Prior to California’s budget crisis in 2012, hundreds of state-funded “redevelopment agencies” routinely used the power of eminent domain to condemn private property for purposes of reinvigorating blighted areas throughout the state. The California State Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown dissolved these agencies amid the state’s budget crisis, but Assembly Members Luis Alejo and Eduardo Garcia have now introduced Assembly Bill 2492 in an attempt to revitalize the state’s redevelopment agency program.

Among other goals, Assembly Bill 2492 aims to:

  • Reauthorize the establishment of redevelopment agencies with the power to condemn private property;
  • Redefine what constitutes “blight” for purposes of identifying possible redevelopment projects; and,
  • Support the sale or lease of land acquired through eminent domain for private use.

This is despite the fact that the California Legislative Analyst’s Office found in 2011 that there was, “no reliable evidence that [the redevelopment agency] program improves overall economic development.”

It will be interesting to see whether either of these bills is able to gain traction during the 2016 legislative calendar. We will continue to provide updates for any significant developments.

Contact an Eminent Domain Attorney with Owners’ Counsel of America

Owners’ Counsel of America (OCA) is a network of leading eminent domain attorneys nationwide. If a government agency is attempting to take your private property, an OCA attorney in your state can help you fight to protect your legal rights. For more information or to request an initial consultation, please contact us online or call (877) 367-6963 today.