Homeowners in Florida should be aware that eminent domain has been invoked in an effort to help waterfront communities cope with increasingly extreme weather. The Army Corps of Engineers has formulated a hurricane protection plan that will make use of eminent domain to flood-proof many communities. The goal is to move some homes to higher ground, flood-proof others and even demolish a few.

The basics of eminent domain

Eminent domain means that the government can take over privately owned property, as long as they pay the homeowners to do so. Eminent domain can be a controversial policy. For example, during the construction of highways, stadiums and other projects in the past, minority neighborhoods were often seized using eminent domain. Some groups see this as the government disrespecting the significance of their community’s cultural contributions.

In actions like the proposed Army Corps of Engineers project, eminent domain would be used for a project that ultimately benefits the surrounding communities. The details of the project suggest that eminent domain would only be used for holdouts who don’t want to participate in the program. Since the project is designed to eliminate or limit the potential flood damage to homes, it’s estimated that most homeowners will elect to participate in it.

As extreme weather events continue to proliferate, it will be interesting to see how communities cope with the physical effects of them. Flooding due to an increased number of hurricanes was the driving force of this plan. It remains to be seen if other communities will use the same strategy.

Anyone whose home is affected by new development should seek advice from a lawyer. Litigation over land affected by eminent domain is fairly common. An experienced attorney will help their clients understand how to challenge the proposed eminent domain condemnation of homes.