April 18th, 2021 — In

Public Use and Public Purpose

This Article is written by Owners’ Counsel of America for general informational purposes only.  It is intended to assist landowners by providing basic information about the “Public Use” clause within the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, including how the meaning of the term “Public Use” has evolved over time. This Article is not to be viewed as providing legal advice or to be considered as a substitute for consulting with an experienced eminent domain, takings or property rights lawyer on the matters covered herein. The definition of all hyper-linked terms can be found in the Dictionary of Key Terms on the OCA Website.  Public Use Defined The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is clearly worded and succinct. It states that: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” What is meant by the term “public use” has evolved over the last century. The original interpretation of the term may have contemplated a somewhat narrow definition requiring actual use by members of the public. For instance, think of the need to acquire property in order to construct public roads, highways, airports and even utilities that serve development, etc.  However, over time more and more states begin to embrace a broader view of the term, such that public use came to be associated with public purpose or public benefits. Here, think of sports stadiums, convention halls, museum complexes and similar facilities and uses where members of the public congregate.   Eventually, this ever expanding interpretation […]

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