Gov. Huntsman Signs New Eminent Domain Law: KUTV-2, Salt Lake City UT, 3/20/07

[Utah] Gov. Jon Huntsman signed a law Tuesday that eases restrictions on communities that want to acquire land for private development.

House Bill 365 allows a public body, a redevelopment authority, to condemn blighted land if 80 percent of owners in the targeted area agree.

The bill also requires a two-thirds vote of a community’s redevelopment board to approve the condemnation.

It is a significant change in a state that had a moratorium on the use of eminent domain for private development.

“I still believe the power of eminent domain should not be used for private development. There are some circumstances, however, where there may be a justification,” Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said last week.

Huntsman’s deputy chief of staff, Mike Mower, did not return a call seeking comment on why the governor decided to sign the law.

The law could allow Ogden to push ahead with plans to condemn land for a Wal-Mart.

It was Ogden’s efforts to attract Wal-Mart by using eminent domain that drew the wrath of lawmakers in 2005, when a moratorium was put in place.

Bramble has said lawmakers could revisit the new law if Utah cities “abuse” it.

KUTV-2, Salt Lake City UT: http://kutv.com