Can the Government Utilize Eminent Domain to Expand Municipal Infrastructure?
Eminent domain provides the government with the power to obtain property, whether it is tangible or intangible, that it determines a public need for. The government, with this power, can come in at any point that they see fit and make a claim for property that you have in your possession. All that is required on their part is that they have to prove that it is needed for public use. On top of that, they must give you compensation equal to what the fair market value of your property actually is. If they do these two things, the property, through eminent domain, can be as good as theirs.
So how does this tie into municipal infrastructure? Well, the expansion of municipal infrastructure is one of the main reasons as to why eminent domain gets invoked in many instances. The government may need to take action to try and improve something in the infrastructure, but in order to do so they may need a piece of land, or they may need a building, and so on. Let’s dig a bit deeper into eminent domain and why exactly the government may use it for the expansion of municipalities.
What Exactly Qualifies as Municipal Infrastructure?
In order to determine why the government would use eminent domain to expand municipal infrastructure, we need to have an understanding of what makes up said infrastructure. Think about what you did during the day today. Did you drive to work on a public road or take any type of public transit? Did you maybe take a walk through a park or go to a public library? Did you drop your children off at a public school? How about the sink or the toilet, did you use either of those today? An answer of yes to any of these questions means that you used the municipal infrastructure of where you live.
The size of the municipal infrastructure in a city such as Jacksonville, FL is vast. There are billions of dollars of assets in that infrastructure that not only need to be maintained, but also improved upon and expanded from time to time. In order to do this, the government needs property. This could be property that is not already in the possession of the government, which is where eminent domain comes into play.
How Eminent Domain Fits Into Its Expansion
Let’s take a look at an example of a town that needs to build a new public school. The town has grown to the point where it simply cannot house all of the children that live in it. There are no more public buildings or any public land that can be utilized to build a new school. They have run out of options. What is the government to do? Should the government find a piece of property that they determine to be suitable, they can use eminent domain to obtain it to build that brand new public school. This is because they determined a public use need for that piece of property.
Another example could even be something that is completely intangible, such as a business logo, for example. Say for some out of the box reason that your business has a piece of intellectual property, a logo that the government needed for some type of awareness campaign in the public. Eminent domain could be used to obtain even that property, though it has no tangible qualities in any way.
Ways to Protect Your Tangible and Intangible Property
The one kicker to both of the examples above as it pertains to municipal expansion in a city such as Jacksonville, FL is that the government needs to pay fair market value for that property. Without paying fair market value, they do not have the ability to obtain that piece of property. One of the best ways to protect your property is to work with an eminent domain attorney in the Jacksonville, FL area or wherever your case resides. Educating yourself on state-specific laws is also a good approach to take before you try and take on the government.
Municipal infrastructure continues to expand and with it comes the need for more land, more property. Understanding your rights as a property owner can help you should the government determine that what you possess may be needed for public use. Eminent domain is a real power that the government possesses, but there are ways to ensure you get a fair shake should you ever have to encounter a case that revolves round property you own.