The doctrine of eminent domain is one of the most powerful tools that the government has to limit the rights of private property owners. Eminent domain grants power to the federal or state government to take private property for public purposes. The right of eminent domain can also be delegated to local governments, agencies or even private parties under certain conditions.
The law allows condemnation of private property for a public use in exchange for just compensation for the property owner. Public use is a requirement under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. This is interpreted to mean that that the property is permitted to be taken only for a purpose that benefits the general public and not individual entities. The term “use” has been broadly defined to mean a project that is shown to be beneficial to the public interest.
The courts and/or legislature of a particular state may determine whether a certain use qualifies as a “public purpose” in accordance with the law. The determination of what constitutes a public use or purpose has been a primary source of litigation in eminent domain cases. Critics of eminent domain argue that expanded definitions of the doctrine leave private property vulnerable to transfers to private owners under the guise of economic development. In 2006, the state constitution of Georgia was amended to specify that property taken via eminent domain for redevelopment purposes must have a public use.
Certain activities have been historically accepted as having a public purpose that justifies a taking. These include:
In Georgia, eminent domain has been used with some frequency to accommodate the growing need for public projects, such as roads and schools. Some high-profile projects that have relied on eminent domain include the construction of two interstate energy pipelines, the Atlanta Beltline, and a parking facility for the Sandy Springs City Center.
The experienced team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C. can help you litigate your real estate claims. Contact Mark Weinstein and his colleagues at (770) 888-7707 or visit them at http://www.markweinsteinlaw.com to find out how they can advise you.