What is Eminent Domain


What is eminent domain and how is it used?

What is eminent domain and who has that power? It's the power of a local, state or federal government entity to take over privately owned property. Most affected by eminent domain cases involves farm land, though there have been many cases involving high profile professional sports teams and hotels that have also benefited from eminent domain. Though the action of seizing property through eminent domain must be done by a government entity, that purpose can be to benefit a for-profit private company or entity.

Who can be affected? Simply: if you own a piece of land where your local municipality wants to see a new shopping mall or hotel located... this could directly affect you! If you own something they want, they could technically "seize" it.

What if the government wants to expand a local, state or national park? If you own property the government wants, they could potentially seize it. One such case involved Everglades National Park and the desire by the congress to expand it starting in 1989. It took years and a big lawsuit, but one local land owner took the government to court over eminent domain.

What if you, or your family owns farm land where a government agency wants to see a highway? It's important as a property owner to know your rights and responsibilities. The University of Florida has a great handbook published on this subject.

The most common cases involving eminent domain are usually "public use" situations involving private land being taken over by a government agency for public use, as in this 2014 case in Orlando in an effort to build a Major League Soccer Stadium within the City of Orlando. Officials wanted the stadium to be built on a particular tract of land, but portions of it were owned privately, by private citizens. The government took the initiative to court and the court determined that they had the right to seize private property for the purpose of public use, even though that public use was to benefit a private (soccer) business entity.

Eminent Domain cases are rarely popular with private citizens

Eminent domain initiates are rarely ever popular with the public. The government has a very broad reach in being able to take over private property, but they are legally required to provide fair compensation to those land owners. Many hotels, football stadiums, soccer stadiums, baseball stadiums have been built through the government's use of Eminent Domain.

Florida Law Statues on What is Eminent Domain

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