Perdue enters eminent domain fray: Atlanta (GA) Business Chronicle, 2/8/06

Gov. Sonny Perdue on Wednesday proposed legislation that would prohibit governmental entities from using eminent domain for economic development or to increase tax revenue.

The proposal stems from a controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision in June (Kelo v. City of New London) that allows governments to seize personal property for private developments — an expansion of eminent domain authority historically used for utility right of ways, roads and other public facilities.

Perdue's Private Property Protection Amendment to the Georgia Constitution would secure private property rights by removing the power of eminent domain from non-elected housing and development authorities, the Governor's Office said in a release. This will ensure that eminent domain decisions are made by elected officials who are accountable to the people for their actions, the governor said.

The amendment also would prohibit the use of eminent domain for redevelopment purposes. A narrow exception is included to allow condemnation of blighted property that presents concrete harm to the community.

"The government's awesome power of eminent domain should be used sparingly and never be abused for private benefit," Perdue said. "I ask the legislature to submit a Property Protection Amendment to the voters and to return a strong bill to my desk that reflects the will of the people of Georgia. Government must always respect the property rights of its citizens."

Perdue also proposed the Private Property Protection Act. It would prohibit using eminent domain for economic development or to increase tax revenue. It will also provide private property owners with stronger due process rights in eminent domain proceedings. This would include increased notice requirements; award of attorney's fees to property owners who prevail on appeal; additional damages for property owners for relocation expenses and lost business revenues; and the right of owners to repurchase condemned land if it is not used for the public purpose for which it was taken within five years.

The bill also would put the burden of proof on the government to show a proposed use of eminent domain is legal.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: http://atlanta.bizjournals.com