Community Redevelopment, Public Use, and Eminent Domain
The Urban Lawyer, Vol. 37, No. 2, Spring 2005
42 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2007
Published just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down their controversial decision on Kelo v. City of New London in 2005, this article, in correctly predicting the outcome of the Supreme Court opinion, explores in Section I how the concept of what constitutes a public use has evolved over the decades from traditionally accepted uses such as public roads, buildings (e.g., government buildings and schools), and utilities to urban redevelopment. It explains how the broad concepts of community redevelopment have been stretched to encompass needed economic development projects that promise jobs, tax revenue, and other public benefits similar to those currently being debated before the courts of our country. Section II begins by briefly examining the development of the "public use" clause with respect to eminent domain. Section III discusses a recent policy guide adopted by the American Planning Association (APA) on community redevelopment. Section IV then examines three significant cases from 2004 that crystallized around the question of what constitutes a valid public purpose under eminent domain when the government's motivation is to promote economic development in the municipality. Section V concludes that the U.S. Supreme Court should confirm that economic development is a valid public use for the purpose of eminent domain, and that the public-private partnerships that have evolved to assist governments in meeting redevelopment needs are a necessary and appropriate strategy fostering a valid public use.
Keywords: eminent domain, community development, redevelopment, economic development, Kelo, Hathcock
JEL Classification: K11, R14, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation