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Examples of Eminent Domain

A Look at Condemnation in Nebraska and Across the U.S.

Because it is a complex subject, eminent domain may be better understood by taking a look at some notable cases where the government acquired or attempted to acquire private property for public use. Here we will take a brief look at a case currently being handled by our attorneys as well as noteworthy condemnation cases in history.

DominaLaw Group is currently representing three Nebraska landowners in two Nebraska courts, challenging a new state law that gives the Governor a role in selecting the route and determining the authority of a pipeline company, TransCanada, to take land from owners for the purpose of building a new crude oil pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline's planned route extends from Canada to Texas, extending over Nebraska. The route is opposed not only by property owners who will be affected by the pipeline but by environmental groups who are concerned about the impact it may have on the Sand Hills region and Ogallala aquifer.

Notable Eminent Domain Cases in History

A landmark decision by the Supreme Court regarding Berman v. Parker, 348 U.S. 26 (1954) resulted in the interpretation of the clause in the Fifth Amendment, "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation," holding that private property could be taken for public purpose with just compensation.

One of the most famous eminent domain cases took place in 1978. In Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City, the Penn Central Transportation Company wanted to construct an office tower above Grand Central Terminal. The company's plans were denied by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which was called on to approve the addition because Grand Central Terminal was considered a landmark. Penn Central attempted to sue the Commission saying that they should be entitled to compensation under eminent domain rules, as the Commission was essentially taking their right to the property for public use. The Supreme Court ruled against Penn Central.

In a 1992 case, Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council, the Supreme Court ruled that preventing a landowner from gaining economic benefit from land subject to eminent domain had the same effect as actually taking the land, thus entitling the landowner to compensation. This particular case addressed coastal land. The government's acquisition deprived the owner of any economic benefit from the land.

One of the most notable failed cases of eminent domain occurred in 1965 when the government seized land from hundreds of landowners to build a dam across the Delaware River, six miles upstream from the Delaware Water Gap. The plan fell through after the land had been seized and is now preserved as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Another case, Kelo v. City of New London (2005) is of particular note because it resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that a city could exercise its right to property under eminent domain by acquiring private homes and transferring these to another private property developer as part of a local economic development project. The decision was close, with a 5-4 vote. It caused a considerable amount of controversy because homeowners saw that their property was being taken and given to other private parties, not necessarily for the public benefit as should be required under eminent domain laws.

Ready to learn more? Contact our firm.

If you want to learn more about eminent domain and how you may be affected as a landowner, now is the time to contact DominaLaw Group. We look forward to providing you with a free consultation to discuss your concerns.

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