Federal, state, and local governments have the power to take private property for qualified purposes if they reasonably compensate landowners for the taking. However, this power is limited by both the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment of the Constitution as well as the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which require that a taking must be for “public use” to be allowable. When you think of the term “public use,” you may think of a government project open to the public or that assists the public. However, in the 1954 case Berman v. Parker,1 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decided that “public use” could be interpreted as for a “public purpose.”

In 2005, SCOTUS issued a largely unpopular decision in the case Kelo v. City of New London2 expanding the interpretation of “public purpose” even further. In the decision, the court held that the government could take private property to transfer it to another private owner for the purpose of economic development, claiming that the economic growth enjoyed by the community from new private developments could constitute a valid public purpose. This opened the door for developers planning shopping centers and other similar construction projects to look to the government to take any private property that may stand in the way of its plans.

Some purposes that may be approved for an eminent domain condemnation for private development may include:

  • Elimination of slums or blight
  • Economic redevelopment of a neighborhood
  • Oil pipelines3
  • Private hospitals

However, not just any private developer with a plan should be able to stake claim to private property. Instead, the developer and the government must sufficiently establish that the project planned is actually for a public purpose and not solely for the economic gain of the developer. For this reason, there are many ways that landowners can challenge the condemnation of their property for transfer to other private owners.

Contact a condemnation and eminent domain lawyer to discuss your case

If you are facing a possible condemnation of your property, the experienced eminent domain attorneys at Severe Storey can protect your rights and represent you in your case. Contact our office at 888-318-3761 for a free consultation today.