Small Business Reading Room

Monday, August 29, 2005

Delaware Eminent Domain Update

We reported here earlier this month that the Delaware Legislature had authorized the formation of a committee to study Eminent Domain issues in Delaware on June 30th of this year. The committee is to study the problem and make recommendations.

As of today, according to Liane Sorenson (R-Hockessin) and Teresa Schooley (D-Newark), it looks like nothing has happened. Neither of our representatives has been able to determine if anyone has been appointed to the committee. It appears the staff person for the committee is on vacation. The task force's report is due on January 10th, 2005.

Both have promised to get us more information and we look forward to hearing that things are moving right along, and if not, why not.

Some changes have been made that help restrict the States right to use Eminent Domain. Senate Bill 217 was passed by both houses and signed into law by the Governor on July 21, 2005. This bill makes clear how eminent domain cases are to be processed. The bill also gives the courts final say in how much to reimburse a homeowner who successfully defends his property rights.

Senate Bill # 221 w/SA 1, SA 2 did not make it through the process last session. It has been assigned to committee in the House of Representatives. This bill lays out a pretty good definition of where eminent domain may, and may not, be used:
This Act prohibits the condemnation of private property where no specific public use is to be made to the property. Pursuant to this Act, a condemnation complaint must contain a specific and detailed statement of the public use for which the property is to be taken. Pursuant to this Act, a Court must dismiss any condemnation complaint that lacks a specific and detailed statement of the public use for which the property that is the subject of a condemnation proceeding is to be taken or is the stated public use is insufficient to warrant a taking. In determining whether a stated public use is sufficient to warrant a taking, it is not sufficient that a general public purpose is to be served by the taking. There must be a showing that a specific public use is to be made with the taken property and that the members of the general public, including those from whom the property is being taken, will realize an immediate and direct benefit from such taking.
For the purposes of this Act, a public use may include the construction or maintenance of public buildings, roads, schools, hospitals, railroads, reservoirs and/or utilities, but does not include revenue generation, economic development, or the re-development of currently occupied residences and may not result in the displacement of the residents of the property.


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Delaware Intercorp, Inc.
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