Odell Named to Eminent Domain Task Force: (claremont NH) Eagle Times, 7/10/05

[New Hampshire] Senate President Tom Eaton, R-Keene, has ordered a committee to study how New Hampshire can strengthen its laws protecting the rights of property owners.

Eaton's request is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that municipalities can use eminent domain proceedings to seize privately owned land for other members of the private sector. The federal ruling is an effort to spur economic development, however, Eaton said in a written statement the implications for landowners are staggering.

"There are legitimate reasons why the government needs to take private property for a public project, such as road widening or flood control," Eaton said in a July 8 announcement. "However, the government should never be allowed to take someone's private property just because it thinks the property could be put to better use by someone else."

District 8 Sen. Bob Odell, R-Lempster, was named to the Senate committee and is charged with developing legislation that could be presented during the next session. Odell said Saturday he expects to begin meeting with the other appointees over the summer.

"Any time you take private property and convey it to another private property owner, it raises some real questions about the rules of the game," Odell said.

In very limited instances Odell said he could see a reason for such a taking, but there would need to be a level of "tremendous importance to the community." Odell predicted the bi-partisan committee will review New Hampshire Supreme Court decisions on eminent domain proceedings, current law and the laws of other states for guidance in its recommendations. Members of the Senate Task Force on Eminent Domain include members of the Senate Energy and Economic Development Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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