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Understanding the public use requirement for eminent domain

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2020 | Eminent Domain |

Eminent domain refers to the process when the government takes private property for a public purpose such as an interstate freeway or railway. Government takings through the eminent domain process are limited to the taking of private property for public use which is why it is important for to understand what is considered a public use.

In general, a public use as required by eminent domain laws is a public purpose that confers a benefit or advantage on the public. Public infrastructure is commonly an example of a public purpose for the purposes of a government taking. In some situations, private development projects that are part of economic development have been viewed as offering a public benefit.

If a taking by the government is determined to have a public purpose and is allowed, there is additionally a requirement that the private property owner be paid just compensation for the property that is being taken. Just compensation is typically measured by what would be considered the market value of the property that is being taken, or condemned, through the eminent domain process.

When a property owner wants to challenge the taking of property, they may be able to do so by arguing that there is no public benefit associated with the taking or that they are not being paid just compensation for the property. The determination of fair market value can also be in dispute. It is worth noting that the eminent domain process can be complicated and frustrating at times to property owners. Because it has such a significant impact on property rights, it is important for property owners to understand the eminent domain process and what they can do about it if needed.