What is Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain goes by many names, including "land condemnation," "condemnation," or "government taking." Whatever name it goes by, eminent domain is the right of the federal, state, or local government (or a party authorized by the government) to claim private property for public use, so long as the government pays the landowner a fair amount for the property. You may hear this payment described as "just compensation." This payment is supposed to be based on the property's fair market value.

Why would the government want to take private property? There are a variety of reasons, including:

  • Highway construction
  • Widening of existing roads
  • Construction of a building to provide public services, such as a police station or school
  • Installation of power lines or sewers
  • Expansion of an airport
  • Building light rails
  • Creation of a park
  • A utility or sewer easement
  • A gas pipeline

Requirements for Exercise of Eminent Domain

In addition to taking land, eminent domain can allow the government to take air or water rights. There are two requirements for the government to be able to exercise its power or eminent domain: the taking must be for a "public use," and it must be "necessary."

Over the years, American courts have defined "public use" very broadly, so that it can mean anything that is in the public's interest or for public welfare. "Necessary" means that the taking of property is the only way for the government to achieve this public interest, and that only as much property as is needed to achieve that goal may be taken.

Learn more about eminent domain laws in North Carolina.

News

Mar
16
Each year, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly publishes an annual review of the top verdicts and settlements obtained in North Carolina. The Odom Firm’s $8,300,000 settlement with the City of Charlotte for the acquisition of land near the airport ra… Read More
Jan
15
The Odom Firm is proud to announce that attorney David Murray has been selected for inclusion in the 2021 North Carolina Super Lawyers Rising Stars (under 40) list for his work in Eminent Domain law. This is David’s 7th year being selected to t… Read More
Nov
11
Tommy Odom, with former NC Supreme Court Justice Robert N. Hunter, Jr., has planned the NC Bar Association 2020 Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section CLE titled “COVID-19 v. The Constitution: The New Normal?” Tommy invites al… Read More
Nov
11
The Odom Firm has been awarded a Tier 1 ranking by U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Firms” for its Eminent Domain and Land Condemnation practice. This is the 12th year that the Firm has obtained a Tier 1 ranking. The Odom Firm remai… Read More
Sep
28
The Odom Firm’s team of David Murray, Tommy Odom, Keren Patrick and Andy Patrick participated in the annual “Clays for Conservation” tournament in Norwood, NC, which benefits the Catawba Lands Conservancy. While the team did not bri… Read More