Eminent Domain: Property Rights vs. Redevelopment

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Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


J. Scott Johnson, Political Science


Cities lacking the ability to prosper economically ultimately begin to deteriorate, which leaves a shell of what was once a thriving community. In hope of alleviating lack of economic vitality, necessitating community expansion, many cities have turned to economic development projects as conduits for desired advancement. These projects are meant to create more job opportunities while rejuvenating sections of the city and providing an expanding tax base. City redevelopment and renewal, at first glance, seem to be positive activities; however, these projects often lead to questionable actions regarding property rights. Individuals who own property in the redevelopment zone often do not want to sell. Their reluctance creates a dynamic where the city is forced to choose between discontinuing the project and forcing property owners to forfeit their assets through an eminent domain condemnation. In Kelo v. City of New London., 125 S. Ct. 2655, 2005 a recent Supreme Court decision, the Court found eminent domain to be a constitutionally admissible means for cities to use when forwarding economic development plans.