Visited Eminent Domain

Firmly fixed in Michigan state, Federal, and ancient law is the governments power of “eminent domain”; the power of government to take private property for public use. Through the state government’s broad power to regulate, known as the “police power”,  the public health, safety, morals, and the general welfare, land use and development is highly controlled. The fifth and fourteenth amendment (due process clauses) of the United State’s Constitution limit the governments power to deprive life, liberty, or property without due process of law. From these federal protections, and other state constitutional protections (explicit or implicit), when private property is taken by a state or federal actor “just compensation” for the property is required.

Eminent Design.
Our roadways, railways (qualified), waterways (qualified), utilities, public buildings, and some urban revitalization of blighted lands are all a product of eminent domain. It is no coincidence that interstate-highways are straight, the government balances the public good (benefit) with the individual bad (burden); if 10 farms may be spared, with little expense to the public, by designing the highway to run half a mile to the left or right of those farms, ideally, the government will choose to spare the farms. This type of taking is fairly incontestable on constitutional grounds, and lobbying is [oftentimes] unsuccessful; after all, if it isn’t in my backyard, it will be in someone else’s–one way or another–someone will be unhappy.

Private Eminent Domain.
Public Use versus Private Use; and modified to include public purpose. Occasionally, the federal government will grant money to a municipality to purchase ‘blighted’ land, lay new roads, sewers, and other public utilities, then resell the properties to private developers. This relatively new repurpose of the public use, eminent domain power, causes controversy. A government (public) is taking land owned by a private individual, and using the land to resell it to another private individual. Challenges to these governmental takings have been brought largely on two arguments: the land is not blighted, or the land is ultimately going to be transferred to a private party. These arguments generally fail.

A notable case that has centered on private takings:
(1) Kelo v. City of New London 545 U.S. 469 (2005); Which spurred several legislative actions limited the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations where the ‘true’ purpose is not merely economic of private entities.

A property owner in Michigan whose property has been subjected to a taking by the state is largely left with only one challenge to compensation, and that is in Michigan courts. The Michigan constitution article 10 • §2, provides for just compensation, where the government has taken from a private party.