- The state failed to pass any meaningful reform, leaving entire neighborhoods at risk of blight designation and condemnation.
- The state needs a clear definition of “public use” and extreme restraint, if not revocation, of condemnation authority based on “blight.”
In 2006, Kentucky’s Legislature did pass a bill that modified the state’s eminent domain laws, but those changes did not fix even the most basic problems with its laws. Even after adopting House Bill 508, Kentucky still allows non-blighted property to be condemned even if the state does not intend to own or occupy the property, and its statutory language could even allow condemned property to be handed over to other private parties. In addition, Kentucky’s eminent domain laws leave in place the common blight loophole that, due to an extremely broad definition of what can be considered blighted or “slum” areas, could permit the taking of entire neighborhoods of well-maintained homes.
Without further reforms, Kentuckians will continue to live under the threat that their homes, businesses, farms, and houses of worship could be taken for someone else’s private gain. The Legislature should more carefully hone the definition of public use to only include traditional public uses, close the blight loophole by adopting narrow and objective standards based on threats to the health and safety of the community, require blight to be assessed on a parcel-by-parcel basis, and adopt a constitutional amendment that defines public use and prohibits the use of eminent domain to transfer property from one private person to another.