What is “public use” in eminent domain?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2020 | Eminent Domain |

If you receive notice that the government intends to seize your property through eminent domain, you may have many questions. Why does the government want your property? Is the project they proposed really a good reason to take your land?

In order for the government to seize your property, it must meet specific requirements.

Generally, the constitution requires the government to meet two requirements for eminent domain: the owner of the land must receive fair payment, and the land can only be seized for public benefit. This idea of public benefit is generally known as the public use requirement.

Examples of projects that fall under public use can include:

  • Government buildings, jails or schools
  • Transportation resources like harbors, railroads, canals, airports, streets or bridges
  • Flood control, shelters and other safety measures for the community
  • Public housing
  • Building or expanding parks

While you may think of public utilities when , the public use requirement does not necessarily require the property to be used directly by the general public. More broadly, property taken for public use should benefit the public or the community in some way. This can include projects that may financially benefit the community, leading to land taken for eminent domain being used to build stadiums, malls, theaters and other structures.

If you wonder whether the project for which the government intends to seize your property is truly for public benefit, you may wish to speak to an attorney about the issue. They can help you examine the particulars of the situation and fight for your rights as a property owner.

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