Lawmakers approve changes to eminent domain statutes: Boston (MA) Globs, 5/24/06

[New Hampshire] State lawmakers voted Wednesday to make it harder for the government to take private land by eminent domain.

The bill would modify state law to limit takings to land needed for public use or a utility, or to remove structures that pose a danger to the public. It defines public use more clearly and prohibits governments from taking land for economic development.

Lawmakers reacted to last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling permitting New London, Conn., to take a group of older homes along the city's waterfront for a private developer who planned to build offices, a hotel and a convention center near Pfizer Inc.'s new headquarters.

The New London ruling also led to an attempt to seize the Weare home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter by eminent domain, because he sided with the court majority in the New London decision. Angry activists wanted to get back at Souter by trying to take his 200-year-old farmhouse to build an inn, but they failed to win the support of town voters.

Lawmakers earlier voted to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to limit government's ability to take private land

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