You received a letter in the mail that the government wants to purchase a portion of your property. Presently, you have your lawn landscaped nicely, and the portion they want would devalue your property in Ohio and ruin the work you’d put in.
You want to avoid them taking the land, but you’re not sure if you have the right. What should you do?
Are you protected against eminent domain?
The government has the power to take private land for public use thanks to eminent domain, which was established in the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendement of the U.S. Constitution. However, this clause is cautious about explaining that the government cannot take a person’s private property without just compensation. The government also has no right to take any land it wants, restricting the right to take land to land that is going to be used for the public.
What is public use?
Public use is anything such as:
- Transportation projects
- Preparation for war efforts
- The expansion of national or public parks
- The need for new government buildings
- Building structures that support the local water supply
Do you have a right to challenge the right to take your land?
Yes, you do. If you believe that the government is trying to take too much land or that the land they’re attempting to take is not being paid for at a fair rate, then you can fight it. The government does still have to meet the standards set by the Constitution and show that the property is being taken to benefit the public.
While most projects by the government will benefit the area (such as building an aquifer or expanding roadways), some may be arguable. Keep in mind that the Supreme Court does allow eminent domain to be used to build items such as shopping malls, health clubs, condos and hotels if those structures will benefit the public as of a 2005 ruling, but the necessity of those structures may allow you to fight against having your land taken.
Can eminent domain apply for only a short time?
Yes. Sometimes, the government only needs to use land temporarily. In that case, a temporary seizure of property may occur. A partial taking happens when only a portion of the land is taken, such as the first few feet of your front yard for a new water line. A complete taking is when the government purchases an entire property and has the residents move out to make room for a new public structure.
In any of these cases, you can fight against the government taking your land if you can show a good reason that the project will not benefit the public.