Local Governments May Have to Prove Blight in Eminent Domain Cases

January 30, 2006

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An Illinois legislator says the state needs to clarify its eminent domain laws.

Under eminent domain, the government can seize private property for public uses like roads, schools and libraries.

Last June, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanded that power by allowing the government to take property and give it to private developers.

Sen. Susan Garrett says in light of that ruling, Illinois should enact more explicit state standards.

""Relocation, attorney's fees, the valuation of the property, the real value of the property, will be part of the state statute so everybody will understand up front what is expected of them,"" she says. ""Obviously that will hopefully be less litigation in the long run.""

Garrett says right now, Illinois property owners threatened with the loss of their land have to wade through case law, and the courts base their decisions on legal precedent instead of clear state statutes.

Garrett's proposed law would also require municipalities to prove that an area is blighted before taking land solely for economic redevelopment.

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