I believe the extended discussions about eminent domain over the past several months warrant me listing the major provisions of the eminent domain reform law, House Bill 1944, signed into law last Thursday by Gov. Matt Blunt.
Here they are:
- The law addresses the U.S. Supreme Court Kelo decision by placing restrictions on the use of eminent domain for economic development.
- Fair market value of condemned property shall include not only comparable sales and replacement costs but also the property’s highest and best use.
- Condemned property owned by the same family for 50 or more years will receive a heritage value at 150 percent of the fair market value.
- Condemned homesteads will be compensated at 125 percent of fair market value.
- Farmland shall not be blighted for purposes of eminent domain.
- At least 60 days before filing a condemnation, the condemning authority must identify the purpose of the acquistion and inform the property owners of their legal rights.
- At least 30 days in advance of a condemnation petition, the condemning authority must give the owner a written offer.
- The condemning authority must provide the owner with an appraisal or explanation for determining the value of the property.
- Before making any offer to purchase property for a power plant, the condemning authority must provide public notice in a local newspaper and make efforts to inform affected property owners.
- If an easement is not used for ten years, the owner of the property may petition the court to declare the easement vacated.
- If condemning authorities do no act in good faith negotiations, the condemnation petition will be dismissed and the court can require reimbursement of the property owner’s legal fees.
- If any condemning authority abandons a condemnation before final judgment, the property owners shall be reimbursed for attorney fees, damages and other expenses.
- Condemning authorities must consider all alternative routes suggested by affected property owners.
- Additional negotiations with landowners shall be required for the expanded use of existing easements.
- Blanket easements that do not specify how the property will be burdened are in general prohibited.
- Displaced residents shall receive increased relocation costs.
- An office of ombudsman for property rights is created to provide assistance to citizens and report annually on condemnation casework.
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