Eminent Domain Pros and Cons
Eminent domain is a power given to governments that allow them to take private property for a project which benefits the public. This topic is controversial because it can have both positive and negative consequences, depending on which side of the project one is on.
The Pros of Eminent Domain
The true and original purpose of the law of eminent domain is to provide property which is necessary to complete a project that is for public use. This may include highways, parks, and buildings for public purpose. The end result may be less traffic congestion, more jobs, improved economy, more tax dollars and other benefits to the city as a whole.
Eminent domain also allows for utilities to be expanded into new areas as well as oil and other products to be transported in a safe way. In essence, these projects should enhance the growth of the local area and may even extend further.
The Cons of Eminent Domain
These projects are not without cost. Unfortunately, that cost is often paid by the property owner who stands in the way of project completion. With eminent domain power, the government can seize any property that prevents the project from moving forward. A property owner may not want to sell, but they will still be forced to move when the property is condemned.
While the law provides for the property owner to receive just compensation, this does not always happen. In fact, they may receive a low offer well below the value of the property. The law states that the property owner should be compensated for the highest and best use of the land, but this can be left open to interpretation. This situation raises another negative aspect of eminent domain in the fact that litigation can be costly and cause many delays.
In many situations, the project can be delayed or even stopped completely when eminent domain is challenged. This can result in unplanned expenses for the project. At the same time, the property owner may have their livelihood changed and suffer a financial burden from loss of income if the property was commercial. Even if they are awarded additional compensation for the loss, it can take months for it to be received.
Eminent domain has its place to help move improvements along that benefit everyone. However, it can result in many issues if the law is not followed and the property owner’s rights upheld.