Eminent Domain is defined or broadly understood as the power of state or government to take over or grab private assets without approval of the owner. Most of the private properties that have been taken over by the government are for serving the public. Historically, most of the eminent domains are the highways and public facilities such as hospitals and railway lines. Therefore, it is pertinent to note that the authority of eminent domain has been exercised in order to construct public projects. However, today this has not always been the case because most of these constructions are taking place for private benefits (Alesi, 2005).
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Benefits and detriments
There are various benefits that the government, private owners and the community enjoy in case of eminent domain. For instance, the community improves the quality of its life, especially in cases where there has been eminent domain with the purpose of improving its infrastructure. This makes it extremely easy for the government to shift from one area to the next one in search for business and also trade. It also benefits from reduced trauma, which it suffers from, due to various coats and burdens, which are most often imposed to the government by lack of development. It also benefits from redevelopment of their community, especially in projects where it can be employed and participate in its growth (Rappa, 2005).
On the other hand, the government benefits in terms of improved economy because if there is eminent domain that encouraged adequate construction of infrastructure, especially the roads, it means that it will be easier for different people to shift from one area to another for implementation their businesses. This highly improves the nation’s economy. Secondly, the government also benefits in terms of execution of its set objectives, especially those that involve infrastructural development. In addition, the owners of the property, which is taken over by the government, may benefit if the terms of eminent domain state that they may require compensation. They may be compensated an amount higher than their initial property. They also benefit indirectly from the projects that the government may initiate in that piece of property.
However, eminent domain has its disadvantage, with the most affected persons being the property owners. This is because what the government may find adequate compensation for them is not always the case. This is because most people are not compensated, while those compensated are often undercompensated. On the other hand, in case of the government, it may receive a lot of hostility and lack of support from people, whose land has been grabbed, especially if the property was taken over and development made for private benefits. The community may also be affected negatively by the eminent domain, especially if the property was taken and projects were developed not for the community’s benefit, but for the benefit of the individuals (Petropoulos, 2011).
Kelo v. City of New London was a case between Kelo and the city of New London. This was an issue that dealt with the application of eminent domain. It involved transfer of the land from one private owner to the other private owner in a bid to improve the economic development. This case went before the Supreme Court in the year 2004. Later in case the court found out that if an economic project has the opportunity of creating new jobs, increases relevant city revenues and taxes and also revives a depressed urban area, then the project or the economic development is to be qualified as a public use (Lakewood, 1990).
A few years ago, when there was a referendum, Michigan has passed a restriction that prohibited the use of eminent domain. This was in November 2006. There was a text of the ballot initiative that proposed a constitutional amendment that would highly prohibit the government from taking over private property by eminent domain, especially if it was done for private purposes. The proposed constitutional amendment would then prohibit the government from taking private property in a bid to transfer the ownership to another private owner or to the business for the key reason of increasing tax revenue or economic development (Petropoulos, 2011). It also meant to protect the existing rights of those who owned such property that was eligible for eminent domain. The proposed amendment also provided that in case the government grabbed a person’s individual residence for public use, the person should be compensated with at least 125 percent of the property’s fair market value at that time. The proposed constitution also provided that in order for the government to take over any land, they are required to provide an adequate proof that highly justifies the taking over of that property for public utilization (Beaudette, 2008).
There are two extremely common cases, which show that eminent domain is not always treated as the last resort. It is treated as another strategy that involves the redevelopment of various tool boxes. These cases are Mesa versus Arizona and Lakewood versus Ohio. In the initial case, which is Mesa versus Arizona, the city used eminent domain in order to encourage the downtown redevelopment. This encouraged development of the local hardware store as it was revealed. On the other hand, this case was able to reveal that eminent domain is not an instrument of last resort but first resort (Scott, 2009). It also revealed that the city’s redevelopment with the private owners or developers should have from the beginning amounted to an effective subsidy, which range from 176,000 U.S dollars to 500,000 U.S dollars. In addition, all the properties that were chosen for redevelopment were identified by the would-be investors. The city further kept on expropriating assets with an eye to realizing the properties to the individual developers. The case also provided that all the existing home owners and petite trade owners were locked out by redevelopment decisions and negotiations (Lomond, 2009).
In the second case, which is about Lakewood versus Ohio, the city’s development plan for that estimated location should that the total amount of the tax value of the real estate business would highly increase by almost one hundred percent. This is from 31 million U.S dollars to about 130 million U.S dollars. This would transform that region from an old, but affordable residential surroundings to mix it with all lifestyles. That is whether rich or poor, all people should be able to live there. The area also had offices, luxury apartments, restaurants and various movie centers. Therefore, in order for the government to make use of eminent domain on that area, the city would have to declare that the whole West End is either deteriorating, especially in economic terms, or is blighted (Bradley, 2007).
However, the analysis that was conducted in the neighborhood discovered that some areas of West End had their properties increase a lot earlier than in other areas of the city. The residentiary vacancy costs were also running low quicker in the West End neighborhood in comparison with the city itself. On the other hand, the neighborhood at West End was extremely healthy, stable and was also growing in a significant way. This was the measure using standards of the neighborhood development. On the other hand, there was an increase in the rates of homeownership, especially between the years of 1990 to 2000 (Pahler, 2007).
The opinion on the eminent domain is that there is no government in whatever part of the globe that should have the power to use eminent domain in taking over people’s property. This is especially if they are doing so for private benefit and not for the advantage of the common public. On the other hand, if it is a must for the government to use eminent domain to take over some private property, then they should have an appropriate reason as to why they are taking over the land (Merriam, 2006).
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