Eminent Domain Restrictions - (as intended)

Right to Property and Eminent Domain

Eminent domain has been used recently to trample on property rights. This has to stop. From now on I hereby declare that:

Eminent Domain may only be utilized by governments to seize real property from an individual for the sole purpose of public building or traverses for ‘Direct and Immediate Public Use’ and a ‘Fair Price’ (as strictly defined below) must be paid to the owner for his property and inconvenience.”

Is there private property in this country or isn’t there? Do we own our property even if someone else wants it or don’t we? Are we merely caretakers until we are told we have to transfer it to someone else? Remember, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels had a problem with strong individual property rights. Most progressives do because it gives the people more power, and government less.

All across the country we hear stories of homeowners being forced to sell out their properties to developers who will offer more tax advantages to the locality. In effect, the local representative’s vote in their chambers to seize someone’s property for the use by someone else, generally a business, condo complex developer, or a big-box store so that more tax dollars will flow into the community. Private property rights be damned, someone more important wants the land. Marx and Engels would again be proud.

Many on the left have no trouble accepting the expansion of eminent domain to include the taking of property for this purpose as they argue it is for some nebulous “public good” – higher property taxes, maybe even some jobs could be created by the new owners which the homeowner was not providing. “Public good” is defined by whoever is in office at the time. Liberals tend to define it as anything that will generate more income for the locality so they can do more good for the people, which, not coincidentally will result in more votes for themselves at election time and less freedom for the rest of us.

We must stop this assault on private property. The taking of property by an eminent domain seizure must be clarified. The tattered law currently clinging on the books weaker than a Floridian voters hanging chad must not be abused. The following is a suggestion to clarify the law to eliminate the abuse and confiscation of private property which is so harmful to liberty, but so critical to the advancement of the progressive movement.

Public use projects are limited only to the building of necessary public roads, schools, other essential municipal buildings, or other such crucial publicly owned properties. Indirect public benefit such as increased taxes or job creation or any other type may not to be a consideration.

ED Necessity

A property may be seized under necessity only if that particular privately owned property is the only rational option available, or one of several virtually identical options.

A - There are no other reasonable alternative locations not involving any seizure of individual property through eminent domain. In other words, Citizen A, who is being victimized by ED, can’t claim citizen B’s house should be taken instead. He may attempt to demonstrate a reasonable alternative not involving ED. This of course is opinion, and can be argued, and appealed by the victim.

B - The necessity of the building itself must be justified as reasonable by the municipality forcing the seizure.

Either issue of necessity may be appealed to a hearing before an impartial municipal judge and jury of not less than 6 members. These members must be local property owners because a jury of peers must be exactly that to ensure fairness.

Fair Price Must be Defined

Due to the fact that ED involves involuntary taking of personal property, current fair market value is not a fair or reasonable price in this instance. FMV is a just price for a property owner willingly selling to a willing buyer. It is not adequate for a property owner forcefully displaced by an unwanted and/or unexpected ED seizure.

A fair price shall be defined as 50% above fair current market value as determined by independent appraisal, or 50% above current tax assessed value, whichever is greater.

Reason: If tax assessment has been higher than CMV, taxpayer has overpaid property tax and so is entitled to receive compensation not only for the property, but also for previously overpaid property taxes which resulted from that inflated tax assessed value. 

2 – Property may not be seized from an individual, or transferred in any way, directly or indirectly, to any other individual under any circumstance. 

“Individual” is defined as any person or business entity not government owned.

Government may not force any citizen, under any circumstance to sell privately owned property to another, or in any way interfere with negotiations, no matter how unreasonable the property owner may seem to be. Private property is defined as property owned by an individual or entity. The county or municipality has no right to determine its transfer for any social reason not defined as “Direct Public Use” above. A property owner cannot be forced to sell regardless of any reason, including positive social benefits, or tax revenue impact some may argue might occur, regardless of validity. A citizen has no legal obligation to sell his property to any individual at any price, no matter how compelling the argument.  


A - A large international big-box store may not use government power of Eminent Domain to seize any private property of a citizen to place a retail store on the site. The company must purchase the property directly from the citizen, if so willing, regardless of the price asked. Since it is the citizen’s private property, he may demand as much as he wants. A citizen cannot be forced to sell no matter how unreasonable he may seem to be, no matter how many neighbors may have sold before him, no matter how much the locality believes they need additional tax dollars or a new big-box store. Private property means he can keep it or sell it as he sees fit. He cannot be forced to sell or transfer his property to any individual or entity to which he does not wish to sell.

B – A local developer may not use government power of Eminent Domain to acquire property of any citizen for the purpose of building a shopping mall, apartment or condominium complex, or for any other purpose, regardless of how many jobs may be created or how much additional tax revenue may be expected to be generated which might benefit the community.

Eminent domain is one of those areas in which our rights have been completely disregarded. If you buy land 20 miles out of town because it is cheap, hold it for investment, and ten years later Walmart wants it to build a store on it, - you hit the lottery. No government hack should be able to make any case to the local legislators how great it would be to have a shiny new Walmart on that corner, no matter what color they paint it. They must not be allowed to force you to sell for appraised value of your land. No, if you are completely unreasonable, and want 100 times the value, or even 1,000 - then so be it. It is your land. Walmart can pay you or go build somewhere else.

By the same token, if a needed building, road, school is necessary for a municipality, maybe a bridge, and I happen to own the land on which it must be built, then, yes – I must sell – but for a little better than fair market value because I am being inconvenienced and should be compensated for both the land and the displacement hassle.

Are strong property right laws so unreasonable an approach in a free society? Progressives would argue that the above is unreasonable. The good of the many outweigh the good of the few, or the one. To them private property is an archaic ideal.

Enlightened Regressivists know that without strong private property rights, the individual has little incentive to work and produce. For what end if it can be voted away by the disgruntled masses?

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