The Auburn Industrial Development Agency (“AIDA”) has unanimously rejected a proposal to use its power of eminent domain for a developer’s hotel project. Four businesses own property in the space where Syracuse-based developer Pioneer Companies wants to build an 88-room hotel. The developer reached agreement with three of the property owners, and it was suggested that the AIDA should use its power of eminent domain to transfer the property of the fourth holdout property owner to the developer.
Read more about the board’s decision here.
What is Eminent Domain? Eminent Domain is the power of the government to take private property necessary for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects. The Constitutions of the United States and the state of Florida require the government to compensate an owner for the taking of such land, which is generally accepted to mean the condemning authority must pay the fair market value of the property taken.
Eminent domain has been used in this state for local road widening, freeways, powerlines, pipelines, retention areas, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals, or other public buildings.
Florida law requires a government (or private utility) seeking to use the power of eminent domain to pay the property owners attorneys’ fees. Section 73.091, Fla. Stat. (2009). This is above and beyond what the condemning authority pays for the taking and any damages to the remainder property.
Article X, Section 6 of the Florida Constitution states:
(a) No private property shall be taken except for a public purpose and with full compensation therefor paid to each owner or secured by deposit in the registry of the court and available to the owner.
(b) Provision may be made by law for the taking of easements, by like proceedings, for the drainage of the land of one person over or through the land of another.
(c) Private property taken by eminent domain pursuant to a petition to initiate condemnation proceedings filed on or after January 2, 2007, may not be conveyed to a natural person or private entity except as provided by general law passed by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature.
The power of eminent domain is an inherent attribute of the sovereign. Article X, Section 6 protects the property rights of the Floridian – and it is this provision which marks the starting point for any discussion of eminent domain in Florida.