How Courts Abuse Landowners

Skipping The Constitutional Mandates

James Constant

edcases@coolissues.com

        Private property changes hands almost instantaneously. If Ken offers to buy Joe's property and Joe is willing, price is not an issue. The parties might agree immediately to price or obtain the price through their appraisers within days or weeks. The only issue is closing the deal and getting the transfer documents made and filed in the local jurisdiction. Why then are the elaborate eminent domain laws needed when government offers to buy Joe's property?

       Eminent domain, compulsory purchase, is "the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property." The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development. The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways, and railroads; however, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety. Some jurisdictions require that the condemning authority offer to purchase the property before resorting to the use of eminent domain.[1]

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