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

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 b… Read More
Sep
15
The Odom Firm is proud to announce that attorney David Murray has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America 2021 for his work in land use and zoning law.  This is David’s 1st year being selected to the Best Lawyers publication.  David is t… Read More
Sep
15
The Odom Firm is proud to announce that attorney Tommy Odom has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America 2021 for his work in eminent domain and land condemnation law.  This is Tommy’s 11th year being selected to the Best Lawyers publicati… Read More
Feb
18
The Odom Firm Gets Millions for Property Owner with Land Near Airport The City of Charlotte has opted to avoid the potential turbulence of a condemnation action and agreed to pay $8.35 million for eight acres of land earmarked for the expansion… Read More
Nov
8
One of the Constitutional Rights Council’s goals is to increase public awareness of the U.S. Constitution. The section sponsors CLE programs and services, provides members with a substantive newsletter and helps mold the association&… Read More