The term “urban blight” refers to the process by which a previously successful and functioning area of a city falls into a state of disrepair. When an area becomes blighted, many states allow the government to take the private property from the landowners under eminent domain1 to redevelop the area for public use or economic development.

Though the exact requirements of a blighted area vary widely from one state to another, the following are some common signs of blight:

•    Deteriorating and/or abandoned structures
•    Population loss or significantly changed population demographics
•    Defective street layout
•    Unsafe or unsanitary conditions
•    Lack of utilities or public works improvements
•    Environmental contamination of nearby structures or land

Such characteristics are often considered to impair the growth of a municipality, encourage unemployment, crime, and political disenfranchisement, cause economic liability, and present a nuisance  or menace to public safety, health, or welfare. For these reasons, the government justifies its actions in taking private property from areas deemed “blighted” to use for another purpose—often commercial development.

Though redeveloping blighted areas may seem like a positive step to many, it can cause major harm to landowners in these areas. Additionally, the definition of “blight” is often so vague that the government may try to seize property under the guise of blight when, in reality, the neighborhood is functioning and vibrant. One abandoned building should not mean that an entire block of homes should be seized from their owners and torn down, though studies2 have shown that the government often abuses its powers to condemn blighted areas.

Contact a qualified North Carolina condemnation attorney as soon as possible

Whether an area is actually blighted or not, landowners have legal rights in the face of eminent domain. At the law firm of Sever Storey, LLP, we are committed to standing up for property owners in North Carolina and several other states so that the government does not abuse its condemnation powers in any way. We have handled all types of eminent domain cases from a small residential lot to acres of land, so please do no hesitate to call us at 888-318-3761 today to find out more about how we can assist you.