Thursday, March 09, 2006

When to use eminent domain?

When should a city use eminent domain? That is one of the toughest questions a city council must deal with. A Deseret Morning News article talks about Provo using eminent domain for a performing arts center. This may be allowed by law, but, is it good public policy? I believe there are very few times when a city should even threaten the use of eminent domain. Using eminent domain for the health and safety of it's citizens is a good use of it. Using the threat of eminent domain to coerce someone into selling their property is, in my opinion, always a bad idea.
What constitutes threatening eminent domain? I don't know the legal definition, but, if I personally received a letter from an attorney stating something along the lines of:

Dear Mr. Van Ry,
Woods Cross City needs to acquire property owned by you for the purpose of providing access to the city park. It is the desire of the City to obtain your property through negotiation rather than filing a condemnation proceeding.
Please respond within 30 days to complete this transaction.

I would feel that the city was threatening eminent domain. I believe most reasonable people would also feel the same way.

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