Public Power, Private Gain: Delaware



Delaware apparently has not used eminent domain for private parties in the past five years. There are no news reports and no new legislation. Indeed, there have been very few condemnations of any type in Delaware between 1998 and 2002—barely more than 100. In 1986, the Delaware Supreme Court rejected an attempt to condemn land in order to retain the city newspaper, which wanted a new building.144 This decision may well have discouraged further similar attempts to take property for private developers. Whatever the reason, Delaware cities have refrained from using eminent domain for private parties and deserve the thanks of all their property owners.†Delaware Superior Court, Prothonotary Office (includes condemnations for traditional public uses). Figures include New Castle and Sussex Counties only. Kent County is Delaware’s only other county.

144 See Wilmington Parking Authority v. Land with Improvements, 521 A.2d 227, 233-35 (Del. 1986).