Governor's task force to study eminent domain usage: New Mexico Business Weekly, 6/16/06

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has established the Governor's Task Force on the Responsible Use of Eminent Domain.

The group of appointed task force members will recommend ways for New Mexico to prevent or prohibit abusive condemnation practices that could result because of the ruling in June 2005 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London (Conn.).

That case established that local governments have the right to invoke eminent domain and can force owners to sell their property to make way for private development when local public officials believe it would be good for the community, even if the success of the new development is not guaranteed.

The case arose out of the condemnation by the city of New London of 90 acres of privately owned waterfront property so that it could be used as a part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan. The court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that the benefits enjoyed by a community from economic growth constituted "public use" under the "takings" clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The city of Albuquerque has invoked eminent domain at least once in the recent past, condemning a SE Heights property and taking ownership of it.

The governor's task force will be co-chaired by J.D. Bullington, senior policy advisor and director of New Mexico government relations for the Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber law firm and John Salazar, a partner with the Rodey Law Firm.

New Mexico Business Weekly: http://albuquerque.bizjournals.com