EMINENT – definition: “used to emphasize the presence of a positive quality.” by Kelli Huggins

August 22, 2019

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids the taking of private property for public use without “just compensation.”  The authority of federal, state, and local government to take private property for public use providing just compensation to the owner is called “Eminent Domain.” Is this policy fair? How does the government justify compensation of the landowner?  Is the public need of the land greater than the owner’s use of the land?

~No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation. 

Currently, my family has land that will be taken over by the state of North Carolina for widening the road needed for double railroad carts to come through the town of Waco, NC.  The current bridge that is in Waco will not allow for double railroad carts, so the state is going to widen the road and raise the bridge to accommodate the transportation need of double railroad carts.  The town of Waco is approximately a half-mile long and on this stretch of land that resides the major businesses of Waco.  A county store, gas station, post office, feed store, car lot, and church. My family owns the land and building the church is on, plus behind that land, there are eight apartments that my family owns as well. The rent the church pays and the income from the rentals of the eight apartments is currently what is paying for the healthcare of my Grandmother.  The process of eminent domain will include my family’s land, all eight apartments and the church.  In addition, taking over the other major businesses in the Town of Waco.  The state does not take into consideration that my family is using that money and income to pay for my Grandmother’s healthcare needs.  Yes, they will pay our family for the value of the land, however, there will no longer be an asset that generates passive income left for our family.  There is no explanation other than we must go along and sell this land to the state for the railroad system to take into effect.  This will totally wipe out the entire town of Waco with no businesses left to provide for the town. I do believe in this circumstance there is greater use of the land for the landowners, the town of Waco, and the community members of this town.

True, the government must pay just compensation to take someone’s property with the power of eminent domain. It is a safeguard written into the Constitution by the founding fathers. The principle of just compensation ensures that the needs of the country are met through eminent domain, while at the same time guaranteeing that the individual will not alone bear the brunt of public use without being fairly compensated for the loss of land or property.

Most eminent domain cases in North Carolina, therefore, focus on what the land or property is worth, and not whether the government can be stopped. Scenarios in which the government may exercise eminent domain include, but are not limited to:

  • Building a highway or road
  • Building a school
  • Creating a greenway or green space
  • Building a public park
  • Putting down water or natural gas lines
  • Installing electric lines, poles, and access areas to reach them
  • Putting down communication cables such as telephone cables or fiber-optic lines
  • Building a hospital
  • Constructing a public administration building, such as a Town Hall

An eminent domain attorney in NC, Chris Beacham, remarks, “In reality, the government’s power in this aspect of the case is pretty broad and one-sided against the property owner. That’s why it’s good to put some power on the property owner side to ensure that they are paid full market value for the property taken and for the damages or diminution in value to any remaining property.”


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