What is Public Use in Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain is the power of the government to seize private property for public use. As a private property owner, knowledge is power; when you learn that your property is being taken, you must know your rights. This includes understanding the definition of public use in an eminent domain context.

Historically, this term has been used broadly and caused many disputes between private property owners and the government on state and federal levels, with some cases being presented in front of the Supreme Court. Eminent domain for public use tends to be unclear and confusing to most American citizens and has been for centuries. Therefore, it is in your best interest as a condemnee to have an experienced eminent domain lawyer by your side.

The Definition of Public Use 

In eminent domain, private property is taken for public – not personal – use. Public use is referred to as one which confers some benefit or advantage to the public, most commonly freeways, extensions, and road widenings. However, this term may not refer to the direct “use” by the general population and instead by a smaller public sector. For instance, the government could seize private property to open a church, serving a subdivision of the general public. Government entities can condemn property through eminent domain as long as land-taking benefits the public and not specific individuals.

Challenging Eminent Domain for Public Use

Over centuries, many high-profile eminent domain cases have seen both victories and defeats. For example, the Supreme Court first heard an eminent domain case in 1878 (Kohl v. United States), when a private landowner challenged condemnation of their property for use as a post office and custom house and failed. Conversely, the city of Oakland tested the limits of “public use” when they attempted to seize the Raiders National League Football Team in 1980 and lost the case, allowing the owner to move the team.

While it is difficult to challenge eminent domain and come out on the other end with your land, it is possible. Speak with the well-versed and trustworthy eminent domain attorneys at Henson Fuerst for free to review your options.

Your North Carolina Property is Our Priority

When building a business, commercial property is instrumental in your success. However, when it gets taken away by a government entity, it can quickly turn your world upside down. Fortunately, we know the ins and outs of the land-taking process and are here to help – but you must act quickly. Commercial complaints are time-sensitive, and hesitation could result in losing your land. 

Contact the reputable eminent domain attorneys at Henson Fuerst by filling out and submitting a contact form or calling our office toll-free at 919-781-1107 for a free legal consultation today.