Private parties barred from utilizing condemnation for commercial development
Rep. Gary E. Sherman (D-Port Wing) today circulated a bill that would ensure that eminent domain (condemnation) could not be used in Wisconsin to transfer non-blighted property to a private developer for commercial purposes, as occurred in the recent US Supreme Court case of Kelo vs City of New London.
"I know that many people have been upset by the Supreme Court decision," Sherman noted. "While that decision did not deal with a situation that has existed in Wisconsin, examination of the eminent domain chapter shows that the possibility is not entirely unforeseeable, so I decided to settle the issue once and for all."
Since the use of eminent domain for private economic development of non-blighted property has never been authorized in Wisconsin in the past, this bill preserves all existing uses of eminent domain, while closing the door to its expansion into this new area. Consequently, it does not address any other issues or controversies involving eminent domain.
"What my bill does is to simply restrict eminent domain to purposes expressly authorized by statute," Sherman said. "Current law does not expressly authorize the use of eminent domain in the abusive manner described in the recent case, but it does contain the words 'for any lawful purpose.' While this has never been interpreted as such broad authority in the past, the fact that it could be in the future has made people uneasy. This bill removes the 'any lawful purpose' language, which should resolve any lingering doubt."
Sherman's bill will be introduced once circulation for co-sponsors has been completed.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin: www.wisdems.org
Representative Gary Sherman
74th Assembly District