Local Legislation on Eminent Domain
Note: The cities listed below are those municipalities that have enacted some amount of local eminent domain reform. This does not mean necessarily that those reforms were sufficient to end the threat of eminent domain abuse in those jurisdictions.
Anchorage—An ordinance introduced by Assembly members Allan Tesche and Janice Shamberg, banning the use of eminent domain to benefit private developers, passed the city Assembly unanimously in July.
Source: Rindi White, “Wasilla bans taking private land for private use,” Anchorage Daily News, Nov 2, 2005.
Wasilla—A City Council ordinance passed Oct. 24, 2005, prohibits the city from condemning private property and turning it over to a private party for economic development.
Source: Rindi White, “Wasilla bans taking private land for private use,” Anchorage Daily News, Nov 2, 2005.
Queen Creek—The Town Council has unanimously approved a resolution prohibiting the condemnation of private property for economic development purposes.
Source: Sarah Thorson, “Q.C. Council shuns eminent domain use,” East Valley Tribune, Oct. 10, 2005.
Anaheim – Mayor Curt Pringle has long been a defender of his constituents’ property rights. In March 2005, before Kelo was even decided, he asked the City Council to adopt a policy prohibiting the city from taking land for economic development. After the Kelo case, Pringle worked to place an eminent domain reform measure on the ballot. “Measure P” passed in 2006 by a 3 to 1 margin.
Sources: “Anaheim City Council following Supreme Court case on eminent domain; Council has banned use of eminent domain for private development,” US States News, March 10, 2005; “Election 2006: California Results; Orange County,” Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2006.
Chula Vista – After a citizens group fell just short of the 15,000 signatures needed to place an eminent domain measure on the ballot, the Chula Vista City Council did the right thing and allowed the measure on the ballot anyway. Voters responded by passing the measure in June 2006. Chula Vista now may only use eminent domain for public uses, and must hold seized property for ten years before selling it.
Sources: Shannon McMahon, “Eminent domain measure to go on Chula Vista ballot,” San Diego Union-Tribune, February 22, 2006; “2006 Primary Election; How the County Voted,” San Diego Union-Tribune, June 8, 2006.
Dana Point – Residents in the Orange County municipality got the opportunity to voice their feelings on eminent domain in November 2006. An amazing 84% of voters voted “yes” on a measure prohibiting eminent domain for private economic development.
Source: Magda Liszewska, “Dana Point; Property issue goes on ballot,” Orange County Register, Oct. 30, 2005; “Election 2006: California results; Orange County,” Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2006.”
Encinitas – In 2005, City Council member Jerome Stocks acted boldly to protect private property by proposing an ordinance that would require a 2/3 majority on a public ballot for every taking of private property for private redevelopment. Despite a colleague’s misgivings, Stocks ultimately prevailed. The Private Property Rights Act of 2005 is now Chapter 2.74 of the Encinitas municipal code.
Sources: Adam Kaye, “Encinitas councilman defends restricting the use of eminent domain,” North County Times, July 14, 2005; City of Encinitas Municipal Code.
Newport Beach—The City Council unanimously approved a law banning the use of eminent domain for private development.
Source: Jeff Overley, “Newport Beach moves forward with eminent domain law,” Orange County Register, April 12, 2006.
Orange County – In February 2006, the Board of Supervisors voted to place an eminent domain reform measure on the ballot. In June 2006, 76% of voters voted to approve the measure. Orange County is now prohibited from using its eminent domain power to take land for private economic development.
Sources: Steven Greenhut, “Fight the Power of Eminent Domain,” The Orange County Register, March 26, 2006; “California Elections: Orange County,” Los Angeles Times, June 8, 2006.
Orange County—The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on July 26 to support legislation that would limit the use of eminent domain to condemn private property for business development. Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa introduced ACA 22, which would amend the state Constitution to blunt the effect of Kelo. The supervisors also endorsed a state Senate version.
Source: “In brief: supervisors back bills to curb eminent domain,” Los Angeles Times (Orange County Edition), July 27, 2005, at B4.
Placer County—Supervisors agreed unanimously on August 23 to support measures proposed in both the state Assembly and Senate to restrict the use of eminent domain to aid private business.
Source: Gus Thomson, “County supports limit to seizures, new eminent domain restrictions endorsed,” Auburn Journal, August 24, 2005.
Porterville—On July 19, city officials passed a resolution prohibiting the use of eminent domain against private property owners for economic development purposes. Porterville City Council Member and Mayor Pro Tem Cam Hamilton brought the issue before the council.
Source: Terry Bergfalk, “Porterville bars eminent domain for developers,” Fresno Bee, July 29, 2005, at 5.
Riverside – On February 13, 2007, the City Council passed a law limiting its power of eminent domain.The new law prohibits the agency from seizing any owner-occupied single-family residence through eminent domain unless the house is encumbered with a lien stemming from a code violation, has been unoccupied or boarded up for more than a year, or has become a public nuisance. The new law also requires the city’s Redevelopment Agency to pay fair market value for any property taken through eminent domain.
Source: Doug Haberman, “Riverside limits its power of eminent domain,” February 20, 2007.
San Bernardino – County voters recently passed Measure O, a ballot initiative aimed at curbing the use of eminent domain for private development. Private-to-private transfers of seized property are now prohibited in San Bernardino County. Bill Postmus, a former member of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, wrote the ballot initiative.
Source: Bill Postmus’ Acceptance Speech upon Taking Office as County Assessor, January 8, 2007.
Siskiyou County – In August 2005, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors gave initial approval to Ordinance 05-13, an uncodified ordinance aimed at protecting county property owners from eminent domain abuse. The ordinance restricts the use of eminent domain for private economic development. On September 20, 2005, the supervisors waived a second reading, consented to a few minor changes, and unanimously voted to adopt the ordinance.
Source: John Diehm, “Supervisors back eminent domain ordinance,” Mt. Shasta News, August 18, 2005; Siskiyou County, Calif., Board of Supervisors, Meeting Minutes, September 20, 2005.
Simi Valley, California—The City Council approved a resolution that prohibits the use of eminent domain against residential properties for private development.
Source: Michelle Knight, “City puts limits on use of eminent domain,” Simi Valley Acorn, May 19, 2006.
San Diego – In December 2005, the city’s Government Efficiency and Openness Committee refused to prohibit eminent domain for private development. However, the committee did institute a few token reforms. San Diego is now committed to better eminent domain notification practices.
Source: Martin Stolz, “Eminent domain changes backed; S.D. Council panel OKs 60 days’ notice,” San Diego Union Tribune, December 6, 2005.
San Diego County – After a review of the county’s eminent domain practices, the Board of Supervisors decided that serious reform is not needed. However, the Board did institute some new protections. In November 2005, the Board voted to prohibit the county from taking “non-blighted” owner-occupied residences for economic development purposes. Unfortunately, business owners and renters in San Diego County are still at risk.
Source: Leslie Wolf Branscomb, “Supervisors agree to clarify policy on eminent domain,” San Diego Union-Tribune, November 10, 2005.
Fairfield—On February 26, 2007 the Representative Town Meeting passed a highly debated Eminent Domain Ordinance. The ordinance forbids the two from seizing land that has four or fewer houses for economic development purporses if the development will be owned by a private or non-governmental entity.
Source: Erin Lynch, “Property protected,” Fairfield Citizen-News, February 28, 2007.
Milford—On July 11, 2005, the Board of Aldermen unanimously approved an ordinance prohibiting the use of eminent domain on any family owner-occupied property for economic development.
Source: Sara Welch, “Milford Lawmakers Vote to Limit Eminent Domain,” WTNH.com, July 12, 2005.
Monroe – The Town Council of Monroe passed an ordinance early in 2006, which requires that eminent domain only be used for traditional public uses and the town must remain the owner of seized property.
Source: Daniel Drew, “Monroe ordinance to establish terms for eminent domain,” Connecticut Post, January 26, 2006; Laura O’Shaughnessy, “Monroe is no New London,” The Chronicle.
Preston—On November 1, 2005, residents passed a referendum by a vote of 358 to 33 that prevents local officials from using eminent domain to seize residential property.
Source: Katrina T. Gathers, “Preston residents pass ordinance restricting use of eminent domain,” The Day, Nov. 2, 2005; “Connecticut towns, cities seek ways to limit eminent domain,” Newsday, Oct. 2, 2005.
Putnam—On September 1, 2005, voters approved a referendum blocking Putnam from using eminent domain to acquire private property for private economic development purposes.
Source: “Voters approve limits on eminent domain,” Newsday.com, September 2, 2005.
Seymour—The Board of Selectman unanimously approved an ordinance on October 4, 2005, prohibiting the town from selling, leasing, or transferring property it seizes to a private individual or business entity.
Source: Matthew Higbee, “Land seizures restricted,” Connecticut Post, Oct. 6, 2005.
Trumbull – In October 2005, the Trumbull City Council voted to ban takings of private property for economic development. In addition, the council voted to increase safeguards for traditional eminent domain actions, requiring a 12-vote majority of the 21-member council for any taking of a residential property.
Source: “Connecticut towns, cities seek ways to limit eminent domain,” Newsday, October 2, 2005; Donald Eng, “2005: The year in review,” Trumbull Times, December 29, 2005.
Washington—The Town of Washington passed an ordinance on August 25, 2005, prohibiting any town official or agency from proposing, approving, or appropriating funds for the use of eminent domain unless the property is town-owned and set aside for a traditional public use or poses a significant health risk to the community.
Debary – Voters in Debary, Florida recently let their feelings on eminent domain abuse be known in no uncertain terms. In November 2006, a ballot measure aimed at amending the city’s charter to prevent eminent domain takings for private development passed with an overwhelming 78% of the vote. The language of the measure is quite broad, as it places restrictions on all eminent domain designed primarily to benefit private parties.
Source: Bob Koslow, “City aims to protect private property,” The Daytona Beach News-Journal, October 11, 2005; “City Hall, sports park plans OK’d,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, November 8, 2006.
Lake Helen – In November 2006, leaders of the small beach community of Lake Helen, Florida gave their constituents an opportunity to weigh in on the issue of eminent domain for economic development. Residents answered yes to the question, “Should city be prohibited from using eminent domain to transfer property to private party?,” by a margin of 531 to 255.
Source: Terry O. Roen, “Lake Helen wants to limit eminent-domain powers,” Orlando Sentinel, March 3, 2006; “Residents deny eminent domain,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, November 8, 2006.
Oldsmar—The city council passed an ordinance on August 16 that forbids the condemnation of private property except for “direct public gain”. Mayor Jerry Beverland said, “What the Supreme Court is allowing, I don’t want that to ever happen here. I don’t want people living in fear.”
Source: Steven Isbitts, “Oldsmar council OKs rule to protect property owners,” TBO.com, August 17, 2005.
Palm Bay—The City Council passed an ordinance that restricts “public use” to its traditional definition set forth in the Florida statutes, and prohibits the use of eminent domain for economic development. It also requires three public hearings and four affirmative votes of the City Council in order to condemn property.
Source: Download the Proposed Ordinance
Pembroke Pines – Public outcry brought an eminent domain measure to the November 2006 ballot, much to the dismay of the county commissioner and mayor. On November 7, Pembroke Pines voters amended Article IX, Section 9.09 of the city charter with language banning the City Commission from using eminent domain to acquire residential property for private economic development. The amendment passed by greater than a 2:1 margin.
Sources: Donald Sinclair, former Pembroke Pines Council Member, “Eminent Domain,” Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, July 13, 2006; Resolution of the City Commission of the City of Pembroke Pines Declaring the Results of the Special Election Held on November 7, 2006.
Polk County—County commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution declaring that “the power of eminent domain shall be used only to acquire private property for a public purpose.”
Source: “County won’t use new eminent domain power,” The Polk County Democrat, August 26, 2005.
Titusville – Ordinance No. 72–2005 would require a public hearing and four affirmative votes of the council before authorizing the use of eminent domain. In June 2006, Titusville’s city attorney informed the city council that this ordinance had become irrelevant due to new Florida eminent domain legislation. The council decided to retain the ordinance in what was perhaps a symbolic nod to property rights. The ordinance made takings harder, but outlawed none in particular.
Source: City of Titusville, Fl., City Council, Meeting Minutes, June 13, 2006.
Cherokee County—County commissioners unanimously passed a Property Rights Resolution on July 5, 2005, pressuring the Georgia General Assembly to forbid the use of eminent domain when land is going to be given to another individual for economic development.
Coweta County—County commissioners voted July 19, 2005, to use the power of eminent domain solely for public purposes, such as building roads, fire stations, schools or libraries.
Source: Eric Stirgus, “Southsiders vow: hands off; 2 counties opt to limit land grabs,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, July 21, 2005.
Forsyth—The Forsyth County Commission unanimously passed a resolution that pledges the current board will not use eminent domain for economic development purposes. The resolution, however, is not binding on future governing bodies.
Source: Bill Johnson, “Business notes,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 11, 2005, at 9JH.
Henry County—On July 19, 2005, commissioners passed a resolution stating that the county “will exercise its eminent domain power for public purposes only and not for the sole or primary purpose of improving tax revenue, expanding the tax base or promoting economic development in order to benefit a private developer, corporation or other such person or entity.”
Source: July 19, 2005 public meeting minutes
Snellville—On July 11, 2005, the City Council signed a resolution stating that it would “never use its power of eminent domain for the sole purpose of giving a private party an economic benefit,” and will only use it “for purposes of community redevelopment in a limited manner while protecting the private property rights of residents and businesses.”
Download PDF of Snellville Property Rights Resolution (280kb)
Yorkville—On August 23, 2005, the city of Yorkville—located in the fastest growing county in the United States—passed a resolution in support of “federal and state legislation to limit government’s use of eminent domain for solely public purposes and protect the property of private citizens from unreasonable seizure by federal, state, and local governments.”
Bowling Green—City commissioners banned themselves from using eminent domain for anything but expressly public uses such as roads on July 19, 2005. The ordinance was proposed by Commissioner Brian Strow.
Source: Jim Gaines, “Bowling Green, Ky., City Commissioners Set Land Rights Parameters,” Bowling Green Daily News, July 20, 2005.
Howard County – On November 7, 2005, the Howard County Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for limits on the power of eminent domain. In addition, the resolution calls on the General Assembly of Maryland to ban state agencies from abusing eminent domain. Council members Guy Guzzone and Ken Ulman introduced the resolution.
Sources: Howard County, Md., County Council, County Resolution 130-2005.
Amesbury—The City enacted an ordinance prohibiting the use of eminent domain for private business and redefining “public use.”
Worcester – At an October 4, 2005 City Council meeting, Councilor Barbara Haller requested that the City Manager provide the City Council with language for an ordinance banning eminent domain for private economic development. Another councilor immediately requested that the City Manager provide information about expanding the council’s eminent domain power. It seems that no eminent domain reform has been passed in Worcester, as the city discussed a possible private-to-private eminent domain transfer during a development dispute in March 2006.
Sources: City of Worcester, Mass., City Council, Meeting Minutes, October 4, 2005; Bronislaus B. Kush, “Project’s non-start draws ire,” Telegram and Gazette, March 6, 2006.
Creve Coeur—In November 2005, city officials placed a moratorium on the use of eminent domain for private development. Download moratorium
Source: Diane Plattner, “Creve Coeur City Council approves freeze on some eminent domain use,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dec. 2, 2005, at D7.
Ellisville—On August 17, 2005, the City Council passed Resolution 08-17-05A, which states that the City Council will not grant a private developer the use of eminent domain in a residential district solely for a private economic development project that has no other public purpose.
Maplewood—On August 9, the City Council affirmed a resolution it had passed a month before that limits eminent domain to traditional public uses. The council also gave final approval to an ordinance restating that position, and placed a freeze on new commercial development until it decides what kind of development is appropriate for the city.
Source: Kathie Sutin, “Maplewood freezes most new commercial projects; Council also reaffirms pledge against use of eminent domain,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 2005.
O’Fallon—City officials have pledged to limit condemnation powers to traditional public uses within municipal borders.
Source: “Eminent Domain: Good Riddance!” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nov. 18, 2005, at Editorial.
Olivette—The City Council agreed to new limits on and procedures for use
of eminent domain on February 13, 2007. Private property “shall not be condemned through the process of eminent domain for solely economic development purposes,” the ordinance states. Eminent domain “should be granted only when all fair and reasonable efforts
to negotiate the purchase of real estate have failed.”
Source: “Council defines eminent domain use,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 14, 2007.
Belmar – In January, Councilman Matthew J. Doherty proposed a new ordinance that would prohibit the Mayor and City Council from using eminent domain to acquire homes to be used for redevelopment purposes. In a 3-to-1 vote in March, the Borough Council adopted an ordinance that prevents the town from using eminent domain to acquire any owner-occupied home for redevelopment.
Sources: Erik Larsen, “Belmar councilman seeks eminent domain ban,” Asbury Park Press, January 4, 2007; Erik Larsen, “Belmar votes to eliminate abuse of eminent domain,” Asbury Park Press, March 3, 2007.
Bergen—In November 2005, voters overwhelmingly approved stricter limits on eminent domain. The ballot question let voters decide if there should be a local ordinance banning eminent domain for private development.
Source: Ana M. Alaya, “Two Bergen freeholders defeat GOP challengers,” Star-Ledger, November 9, 2005.
Bogota—In November 2005, voters passed an ordinance—by a margin of 1,408 to 293— prohibiting the mayor and borough council from using eminent domain to condemn private property for private development.
Source: Brian Aberback, “Municipal Results; Bogota,” The Record, Nov. 9, 2005 at local.
Middlesex—The Middlesex Borough Council and Mayor passed a resolution pledging to the “property owners, business owners and residents of the Borough of Middlesex not to use Eminent Domain while moving forward in implimenting the Recommended Vision by the People of Middlesex.”
Source: Reka Bala, “Middlesex condemns use of eminent domain,” Courier News, August 14, 2005; See also updated resolution in January 2006.
Paramus – In October 2005, the Borough Council passed an ordinance restricting the borough’s use of eminent domain. The ordinance, passed with unanimous bipartisan support, limited the use of eminent domain against owner-occupied private property to traditional public uses such as roads, sewer lines, schools, and hospitals.
Source: Mary Firschein, Paul H. Johnson and Adrienne Lu, “Bergen County Briefs,” The Record (Hackensack, N.J.),October 27, 2005.
Albuquerque – In August 2005, the Albuquerque City Council passed a bill requiring any taking of an occupied resident for economic development to first be approved by the City Council. An amendment extended this protection to operational businesses.
Source: Erik Siemers, “A roundup of news from Council meeting,” Albuquerque Tribune, August 23, 2005.
Bernalillo County—Commissioner Michael Brasher sponsored a resolution opposing an expanded use of eminent domain powers and the council adopted it on June 28, 2005.
Source: Dan McKay, “Local Governments Weigh Protections Against Seizure,” The Albuquerque Journal, July 25, 2005.
Bosque Farms—On August 18, the village council unanimously passed an ordinance limiting its power of eminent domain to public use only when the public health or safety of village residents is threatened or at risk.
Source: Clara Garcia, “Water plan debated at BF council,” News-Bulletin.com, August 24, 2005.
Chaves County—In July 2005, the County Commission passed a resolution stating that it would not exercise its power of eminent domain to transfer private property from one owner to another.
Source: Christopher Cunningham, “County Commission: No eminent domain,” Roswell Daily Record, July 22, 2005.
Santa Fe – In August and July 2005, the Santa Fe City Council debated and passed a resolution in support of property rights in response to the Kelo Decision. The resolution declares that the city may not use eminent domain to take land for private economic development. Also, it states that all condemnations in Santa Fe must follow state guidelines.
Sources: “City Council round-up,” Albuquerque Journal, August 11, 2005; City of Albuquerque, N.M., City Council, Meeting Agenda, August 8, 2005.
Dutchess County—Lawmakers unanimously adopted a resolution prohibiting county tax funds from being used for condemnations of private property without public benefit. Legislator Shannon LaFrance introduced the legislation in response to Kelo.
Source: “Dutchess legislators unanimous on one thing, strictly limit eminent domain,” Hudson Valley News, Sept. 26, 2005.
Greece—On August 16, 2005, the Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the Kelo decision and enacting a town policy to protect private property rights. It also calls on state legislators to support state constitutional and statutory protections for private property owners’ rights.
Source: Download the Resolution
New York City—Prospect Heights Councilwoman Letitia James has introduced legislation to the City Council that would ban the city from using eminent domain solely for economic development purposes and prohibit city funds from being used for such projects. The legislation obviously had quite a bit of support, as seventeen co-sponsors in addition to Councilwoman James signed their name to it. Unfortunately, the City Council let the 2005 session expire without bringing the legislation up for a vote.
Source: Jess Wisloski, “Council to attack land grabs,” Brooklyn Papers, August 26, 2005; Legislation Details for Int. 0698-2005.
Westchester County—Legislators Jim Maisano and Thomas Abinanti have proposed legislation to the Westchester Board of Legislators that would reform eminent domain in the county by prohibiting county funds from being used for any development project that uses eminent domain to take private property for private use. The legislation also bans the county from using its own power of condemnation for projects that misuse eminent domain in this manner. Supporters have been persistent in pushing for this legislation, but up to this point they have not been successful in getting anything passed. The powers that be on the board have resisted an up-or-down vote on eminent domain reform.
Source: “Legislation proposed to reform eminent domain law,” Westchester.com, Sept. 23, 2005; Leader of the Minority George Oros, “Minority Response to the State of the County,” August 26, 2006.
Woodfin—On August 16, the Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution stating that the town will not employ eminent domain outside of a true “public use”. The resolution also states that the board believes the Kelo decision uses an “overly broad definition” of public good.
Source: Leslie Boyd, “Woodfin decides to restrict eminent domain,” Asheville Citizen-Times, August 17, 2005.
Fargo – Due to the hard work of City Commissioner Mike Williams, residents of Fargo, North Dakota no longer have to worry about their land being taken solely for economic development. In 2006, the Fargo City Commission voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance that limits the city’s eminent domain actions to takings for traditional public uses.
Sources: Mike Williams, “Measure Two helps protect property rights,” Grand Forks Herald, November 5, 2006; “Fargo to study ordinance restricting eminent domain power,” The Associated Press, August 16, 2005.
Delaware—On August 22, 2005, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a charter amendment ordinance proposed by Vice Mayor Steven Cuckler that would prohibit the city “from using eminent domain to acquire private property for economic development.” In November, voters approved the amendment. According to the councilman who introduced the eminent domain amendment, Steve Cuckler, it would have been unwise to wait for state or federal lawmakers to handle the issue.
Source: Jane Hawes, “Delaware City Charter; voters might reign in eminent domain,” Columbus Dispatch, Oct. 30, 2005; Dana Wilson, “Charter revision to limit eminent domain OK’d; Powell voters allow City Council’s move to set up tax-financing area,” Columbus Dispatch, November 9, 2005.
Curry County – In 2005, the Curry County Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance banning the use of the county’s eminent domain power to benefit private parties. In addition, the ordinance calls for using eminent domain only for traditional public uses.
Source: Jim Walker, “County approves no-taking of property for private use ordinance,” Curry County Reporter, November 30, 2005.
Douglas County—Commissioners approved an ordinance in November 2005 that prohibits the County from using eminent domain to condemn property for private development.
Source: John Sowell, “County rules: Private property can’t be seized for public use,” News-Review, November 3, 2005.
Jackson County—On August 31, 2005, county commissioners passed an ordinance that severely limits the government’s ability to condemn private property unless there is a clear public benefit: “The Jackson County Board of Commissioners believes that the power of eminent domain should be used to acquire property only for public purposes, as has traditionally been the case in Oregon.”
Source: Damian Mann, “County counters eminent domain ruling,” Mail Tribune, September 1, 2005.
Port Orford – The city council unanimously voted Yes on Ordinance 2006-06, which proclaims a ban against eminent domain for purely private benefit.
Source: Evan Kramer, “City council says no to eminent domain,” Port Orford News, Jan. 25, 2006.
Murrysville—The City Council reaffirmed its policy in September 2005 that it would not use eminent domain for anything other than public uses.
Source: “Greensburg,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 15, 2005.
Pennington County—The county commission approved a resolution on August 16 in support of protecting private property rights, stating that any departure from the public use requirement of eminent domain is an “assault on our basic foundations of liberty and a threat to the rights of private property ownership.” In late June, the commission vowed never to take private property to benefit private developers, but it did not take a vote.
Source: Scott Aust, “Commission resolution opposes eminent domain,” Rapid City Journal, August 17, 2005.
Knox County – In July 2005 and upon a second reading in August, the Knox County commissioners voted to increase the number of votes needed to condemn land for economic development. It does not apply to condemnations for industrial property. The commissioners felt compelled to act after the Kelo decision earlier that year. Now, two-thirds of commissioners must approve takings for economic development.
Sources: Michael Silence, “Commission agrees on first reading to up number of votes needed,” Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 26, 2005; Brian Cox, “Hammond seeks first full term,” Farragut Press, April 6, 2006.
Austin – In September 2005, the Austin City Council gave final approval to an ordinance prohibiting the city from using its eminent domain power to acquire land for private economic development. Councilman Brewster McCracken introduced the ordinance.
Sources: Sarah Coppola, “Austin official: Curb eminent domain power; Council member wants to limit city’s ability to seize property,” Austin American-Statesman, July 15, 2005; “Austin City Council action,” Austin American-Statesman, September 2, 2005.
Comal County—On July 14, 2005, the Commissioners’ Court passed Resolution #2005-29 stating that it does not intend to use any additional power given to it by Kelo. A Commissioner commented that this was a symbolic action to show citizens their high regard for property rights, regardless of how local and state legislatures react.
Source Ron Maloney, “Commissioners Limit Eminent Domain,” The Herald-Zeitung, July 15, 2005.
Friendswood – In 2006, the City Council readopted a resolution aimed at stopping eminent domain for private development. It is now the stated policy of the council not to use eminent domain for these purposes. Also, the resolution calls for changing the section on eminent domain in the City Charter when the charter is next up for amendment in a few years.
Source: City of Friendswood, Tex., City Council, Resolution No. R2006-13.
Patrick County, VA – In July of 2005, the Board of Supervisors issued a comprehensive resolution banning the use of eminent domain for private economic development and public “purposes” and condemning the Supreme Court for its decision in Kelo v. City of New London. In addition, the Board insisted that Patrick County only use its eminent domain power for traditional public uses.
Source: Patrick County, Va., Board of Supervisors, Meeting Minutes, July 11, 2005.
Barron County—The Board of Supervisors passed a motion formally objecting to the Kelo decision, and stating that it will only use eminent domain as a “last resort” for “public projects”—not when the property is to be handed over to a private entity.
Source: Eric Quade, “Board passes eminent domain resolution,” Barron News Shield, September 1, 2005.