In order to effectively fight eminent domain abuse, you must be vigilant and remember to be skeptical of promises made by local officials. In our experience, city leaders often use the same catch phrases, which makes it easier for you to decipher their code words and recognize you are in danger of condemnation.
Alarm bells should go off when you hear…
- “This is a great project,” and “eminent domain will only be used as a last resort.” That just means that if the residents or businesses don’t agree to sell, eminent domain will be used.
- “We’ll take care of you.” You may be willing to move if there is sufficient compensation. That’s fine, but don’t be fooled by any statements as to what will happen. On the whole, while there may be a few exceptions, anything that a government employee tells you is not binding on the government agency. Even statements at city council meetings may be ignored later.
- “We want to include you in the redevelopment project area, but you won’t be condemned.” Even a written promise that you will not be condemned can’t be enforced later if the government changes its mind. For condemnation, the only protection is to make sure the agency does not have the power to condemn and that means making sure you are not in the redevelopment area or the agency is not authorized to do condemnations.