Eminent Domain Committee Meeting

September 21st, 2005

Today was the second meeting of the Interim Study Committee on Eminent Domain, which was formed in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling in
Kelo v. New London
.

In that case, the Court essentially held that the use of eminent domain for economic development did not violate the public use clauses of state and federal constitutions. Essentially, if an economic project creates new jobs, increases tax and other city revenues, and revitalizes a depressed urban area, it can constitutionally qualify as a public use.

However, the Court also allowed states to make their own specific determinations. In other words: while Connecticut may allow local governments to seize homes with eminent domain to develop a shopping complex - Indiana could choose to not allow that.

During the first Committee meeting, we heard testimony from groups such as the Castle Coalition, which opposes the use of eminent domain, as well as from representatives of local governments who seek to maintain maximum flexibility in local redevelopment efforts. Mishawaka Mayor Jeff Rea made a very good presentation on why cities feel the need to retain eminent domain as a tool in their redevelopment efforts.

Today’s session was shorter than our first meeting. The bulk of the testimony came from Mr. Kurt Webber, an Indianapolis attorney who represents landowners fighting eminent domain in condemnation actions. The minutes for today’s meeting are not yet online, but they will become available at the main Committee site.

eminent domain 2nd hearing

The main point I feel the committee needs to focus on is re-drafting IC 36-7-1-3. This statute sets the criteria designating an “area needing redevelopment.” That designation is what allows for eminent domain to be used in a private development. Currently, the code is very vague, and could be applied to mean almost any location in our community was in need of “redevelopment” through eminent domain.

Further, I think it is important to give people’s homes more specific protection than other types of property when eminent domain is used.

The Committee will be making recommendations to the General Assembly for legislative action at the last meeting.

Feel free to let me know if you have an opinion on this issue.

Entry Filed under: Eminent Domain


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