What is the Definition of Eminent Domain?

The Fifth Amendment1 of the U.S. Constitution gives the government the power to claim private property through a regulatory taking. This concept is referred to as “eminent domain.” The government’s power to take property under eminent domain is not without limit, however, as certain circumstances must exist for the taking to be valid and legal. If these circumstances do not exist, landowners can fight against an eminent domain action in court. Though the government may seem like a formidable adversary in court, landowners have mounted successful challenges to takings of their property with the assistance of a skilled eminent domain attorney.

Basis for legal challenges

In order for the government to legally take your property, the purpose of the taking must be for “public use.”2 Common examples of public use can include:

  • Building schools or libraries
  • Constructing or expanding roads
  • Building fire stations, police stations, or other government facilities
  • Designing parks

In addition to the above traditional uses, courts have expanded the definition of “public use” to include any projects that may simply benefit the public. This can include making way for commercial centers or other private developments that may increase tax revenue. Though “public use” is broadly interpreted, you can challenge a taking if you believe that there is no valid public benefit from the planned project.

You may also challenge a taking if you believe that your property is not necessary for the project. Furthermore, if the government is trying to take your entire property, you can argue that only part of the property is necessary for the project and you may be able to retain ownership of the rest of your property.

Consult with an eminent domain attorney at Sever Storey to discuss your rights today

Fighting eminent domain may be possible in certain situations and the experienced condemnation lawyers at the law firm of Sever Storey can identify whether this is an option for you. Even if you do not have the proper basis to entirely fight a taking, our skilled eminent domain team will work to make sure your landowner rights are fully protected and that you receive full and fair compensation for any part of your property that is taken by the government. Please call for a free consultation at 888-318-3761 today.