Skip to Content
Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP
CALL TODAY! 888-998-2031

Eminent Domain "Public Use" Qualifications


Eminent domain cases are often based on two principles: The government’s ability to provide “just compensation” and the proof that the property is being taken for “public use.” The latter consideration involves establishing that a property seizure is for a project that will benefit the local community. How do you know if the government has a “fair” reason to buy your home, business, or plot of land?

The Definition of “Public Use”

The Fifth Amendment’s “Takings Clause” states: “Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.”

In eminent domain law, “public purpose,” “public necessity,” “public good,” or “public use” can be defined as anything which is meant to enrich the lives of people who reside, visit, and work in the area. Essentially, eminent domain law states that the government has the right to acquire a property if their intended use of the space serves a greater benefit than its current purpose and the property owner receives just compensation.

Factors to Consider

To qualify as serving a public purpose, a project must serve a benefit to the public, rather than aiding the interests of an individual or specific group. The definition of public use may seem subjective, but there are some parameters you can consider to evaluate the “public purpose” outlined in your eminent domain case.

If you are unsure about the legitimacy of an eminent domain proposal and whether it is a public necessity, consider questions such as:

  • Who does this project benefit?
  • Is the project needed in this area?
  • Are there other things in the area that serve the same purpose as this project?

Examples of a Qualified Eminent Domain Purpose

Eminent domain projects can range in scope, from those that benefit an entire region to those that benefit a smaller population. Even if the construction of something will only directly benefit a smaller group of people, it could still be considered as a public necessity.

Eminent domain may be used for the purpose of construction projects such as:

  • Freeways and roads
  • Bridges
  • Water treatment plants
  • Reservoirs
  • Public transportation infrastructure
  • Public parks and nature reserves

Does the Government Have the Right to Take my Property?

It is possible to stop eminent domain. If it can be proven that a project is not for public benefit or if the owner has not received just compensation, a development can be canceled completely or certain people can avoid being bought out.

To help you build a strong case against eminent domain, hire the legal team of Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP. We can determine the legality of a proposal. Depending on your circumstances, we can attempt to stop the seizure of your property or ensure you receive just compensation for your land, home, or business.

If you are unsure of your rights in an eminent domain situation and are interested in consulting with our experienced attorneys, send us a message or call 888.998.2031.