Pay attention to eminent
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
If you think its hot in Florida during
the summer, you should have been in Washington D. C. in June.
The town was really sizzling when the Supreme Court sent down
a ruling regarding the interpretation of eminent domain, a
ruling the residents of Florida should pay very close attention
Eminent domain, also called condemnation, is the process which
allows the condemning authority, generally a government agency,
to take property which is considered necessary for certain
projects so long as just compensation is paid. Eminent domain
projects may include road improvements, schools, public parks
and stormwater facilities. Commonly, land for public improvement
projects such as widening a road, are acquired through eminent
A key attribute of eminent domain is that the government can
exercise its power even if the owner does not wish to sell
his property. In addition, the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution
allows private property to be taken by eminent domain only
for public use. This would mean that the project need not
be actually open to the public to constitute a public use.
Instead, generally only a public benefit is required.
The reason the Supreme Courts decision, Kelo v. New
London, Conn., is so controversial is that the court found
it constitutional for the state of Connecticut and the city
of New London to condemn 15 homes owned by seven families
for "economic development" rather than public use.
The owners brought suit against the state stating that the
condemnation was not for public use as required by the Constitution.
The courts decision was by a very narrow margin of 5-4,
Justice Sandra Day OConnor, who has since announced
her retirement from the bench, was one of the dissenting votes.
The Court did hold that the families receive just compensation
for their homes, but in no way could they hold onto their
property. The state of Connecticut in an effort to revitalize
the city of New London, is unfortunately taking away the rights
of individuals for non-public use
Florida is growing in both population and construction faster
than most people ever anticipated ten years ago, and the need
for new roadways, schools and parks is inevitable. This Supreme
Court ruling could negatively impact Florida homeowners in
years to come as the need for both public and private enterprise
Under Florida law, as a homeowner if your property or a portion
of your property is condemned, you have a right to an independent
appraiser and attorney. Florida law also requires the condemning
authority to pay for your legal, appraisal and other expert
fees, such as engineers or surveyors, in addition to and separate
from any settlement you receive.
The U.S. House of Representatives is actively trying to get
the Supreme Courts decision reversed. Keep a close eye
on how this battle is finally settled, since it could substantially
affect your rights, if Anna Marias population and traffic
Could the widening of Gulf Drive be in our future, or would
it be for the "betterment" of the community to remove
some of the older duplexes in Holmes Beach? Make sure your
rights arent removed as well.