Key Panel Passes Bill to Ban Taking Private Land for Economic Development: Savannah (GA) Business report and Journal, 2/4/05

The Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday voted unanimously to pass legislation restricting the use eminent domain powers. Senate Bill 86, authored by Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-Brunswick), prohibits the exercise of the power of eminent domain for the purpose of transferring the condemned property to a private developer, corporation or any other private entity for the purpose of expanding the tax base or for economic development.

"This bill should help to set property owners' minds at ease that their property can not be condemned by a local government and then turned over to a private developer," Chapman said.

The intent of the bill is that the private rights of residents and businesses should be protected over the interests of private developers and corporations. If passed, it will not restrict local governments' current powers of eminent domain. However, the power of eminent domain should be used sparingly, and such laws should be strictly and narrowly construed for the sole use of legitimate redevelopment projects, Chapman said. The Committee, chaired by Sen. Preston Smith (R-Rome), approved the bill after a brief discussion period with a bi-partisan vote of 10 to 0.

"There has been a considerable amount of controversy and misunderstanding surrounding eminent domain lately," Smith said. "I applaud Sen. Chapman for having the foresight to come forward with this legislation. This should help clear up these misunderstandings and ensures that private property owners' rights are protected." As a freshman senator, this is Chapman's first piece of legislation.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee to be considered for floor debate by the full Senate.

Chapman represents 3rd Senate District which includes Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Glynn and McIntosh counties.

Savannah Businessreport and Journal: www.savannahbusiness.com