Husted Announces Passage of Eminent Domain Legislation: Campaigns & Elections Magazine, 6/13/07

Bill Will Protect Rights of Private Property Owners

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted (R- Kettering) today announced the passage of House Bill 5, priority legislation aimed at protecting private property owners by restricting the use of eminent domain in Ohio.

"This bill establishes statewide standards for private property owners throughout the state of Ohio," Husted said. "It sets a clear standard for property owners and protects their rights without standing in the way of economic progress."

Eminent domain is the power of a state to seize an individual's private property to fulfill a public need without the consent of the property owner. House Bill 5 was introduced as priority legislation in the House to address the issue of eminent domain in more detail as a direct result of the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v. New London. The ruling in Kelo stated that a city's exercise of eminent domain power in furtherance of an economic development plan was constitutional.

In response to the Kelo ruling, the Eminent Domain Taskforce was established in the last General Assembly to review eminent domain. The taskforce made recommendations on addressing eminent domain rights in Ohio, preserving the rights of private property owners and preventing Kelo-type eminent domain takings from occurring in Ohio.

House Bill 5 implements a number of the recommendations made last year by the task force. Among the highlights of House Bill 5 are provisions that prohibit communities from using eminent domain powers to acquire property except when necessary and for a public use. The legislation further requires communities to provide a development plan describing the public need for the property.

To address the issue of defining what property can be considered blighted, the bill provides a clear description of blight and a ‘blighted area' as being an area where 50 percent or more or the parcels are blighted. The legislation also protects farmland from being declared blighted.

In addition, the bill requires entities wishing to use eminent domain to provide a period for public comment as well as an appraisal of the property in question. The property owners would have the option of repurchasing the property if it has not been used within five years.

House Bill 5 passed the House today and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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