4 Famous Eminent Domain Examples

4 Famous Eminent Domain Examples

Eminent domain is the government’s right to acquire private property for public purposes. Unfortunately, this power can cause serious problems for property owners if they are not treated fairly or justly compensated.

If you are a property owner concerned that the government may be considering taking your land under eminent domain, Flint Cooper can help. Our experienced team of government takings lawyers has been fighting for the rights of property owners for over two decades. In this post, we will address key questions about eminent domain and provide you with a few famous eminent domain examples.

Famous Eminent Domain Examples

1. Hoover Dam (Arizona and Nevada)

One of the most famous eminent domain examples in recent U.S. history is the Hoover Dam, which sits near the border of Nevada and Arizona. In the 1930s, when the dam was constructed, it required the acquisition of private property through eminent domain. The government needed to secure land along the Colorado River to build the dam, which was built to provide water and hydroelectric power and water resources for the region—all the way to California. 

The World War II era and the roll-out of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal policies represented the most active use of eminent domain in U.S. history. Whether it meant building infrastructure projects or acquiring factories to manufacture weapons, the U.S. government used this power liberally during that time. In fact, the extent to which they used it at that time has not been seen since.

2. Central Park (New York City)

The creation of Central Park in the mid-19th century involved the extensive use of eminent domain. The City of New York acquired the land for the park, which at the time was largely undeveloped. At the time, it did contain existing settlements, which the City acquired through eminent domain with the goal of transforming the purchased property into a large public park. Creating Central Park required displacing about 1,600 poor residents, including many farmers. It also destroyed Seneca Village, which was one of New York City’s most stable African American settlements. Through eminent domain, the City condemned three African American churches and a school. 

The creation of Central Park highlights a fact that carries through to today: Americans with lower incomes are more likely to have their property rights stripped away than those with high incomes and fancy properties. If you feel your property rights are in danger, contact Flint Cooper today.

3. City of New London (Connecticut)

In Kelo v. City of New London, the City of New London, Connecticut, sought to acquire private property through eminent domain to facilitate economic development. The Court allowed Connecticut to seize private property for larger private development projects that would theoretically create trickle-down wealth. In its decision, the Supreme Court emphasized that the Constitution did not mention actual public use as a requirement for employing the power of eminent domain. Instead, the Court claimed that the Constitutional meaning of “public purpose” should be interpreted broadly to include any benefit that might ultimately extend to the public.

4. Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium (Texas)

The construction of the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium required the use of eminent domain. The City of Dallas used its power of eminent domain to acquire the land necessary to develop the stadium complex. This included the former site of the Arlington Stadium, where the Texas Rangers baseball team used to play.

These examples illustrate the diverse range of projects and purposes for which eminent domain has been used throughout history. It is worth noting that the application of eminent domain is a complex and often controversial topic, and there are ongoing discussions about the appropriate limits and safeguards associated with its use.

Can You Fight Eminent Domain?

Property owners can fight eminent domain in two ways. First, a property owner can prove that the government is not taking their property for proper public use. Second, a property owner can prove that they were not offered the property’s fair value. Hiring a government takings lawyer can help you fight efforts to take your private property unlawfully. Flint Cooper can help answer questions about whether the government can take your property without paying for it and how to fight back.

It is important to note that under most circumstances, a property owner cannot outright refuse the government’s efforts to take their property. This is because the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives federal, state, and local governments the right to legally take private property for public use as long as the owner is paid just compensation.

Over the past decade, I've had the pleasure of working closely with the partners and staff from Flint Cooper. They've always been a fantastic client from providing clear and concise communication, paying invoices timely, and most importantly, they're just a great group of people.
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What Property Is Exempt from Eminent Domain?

Not all property may be taken for any purpose, and many states prohibit the following types of properties from being taken by eminent domain:

  • Cemeteries
  • Gardens
  • Factories

However, property owners cannot convert their property to one of these uses in order to avoid condemnation once eminent domain proceedings have begun. For instance, if your 100 acres are at risk of being condemned and taken by eminent domain, you cannot prevent this by suddenly selling burial plots or moving a deceased relative’s grave to your acreage.

How Flint Cooper Can Help

Flint Cooper provides premier legal representation to clients facing condemnation actions or looking to fight back against a government taking. If you are facing a condemnation action or have questions about your legal rights, contact our dedicated team today.

About the author:

Ethan Flint

Ethan is a founder and managing partner of Flint Cooper, a law firm specializing in complex litigation. Ethan has extensive experience in personal injury cases, representing clients injured by asbestos, defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and leads the firm’s government takings practice.

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