The issue of how eminent domain power is to be used or not
used and what constitutes a “public purpose” is an emotional
issue in the wake of Kelo v. City of New London, if not before.
If Kelo involved the taking of a commercial property and not
someone’s home, I doubt it would have attracted the attention it
did. Every year, the American Law Institute-American Bar
Association (ALI-ABA) gives a two-and-a-half day series of
courses relating to different aspects of condemnation
proceedings. It is attended, for the most part, by attorneys from around the country who practice in the field. After the United States Supreme Court handed down its Kelo decision, the attendees reported the outpouring of popular discontent with the possibility of condemnation of someone’s house for “economic development” by a private party. They also reported that everyone was envisioning their home would be next. Lawmakers took note. As a result, state after state has adopted new laws putting restrictions on the use of eminent domain power; mostly aimed at economic development projects by private developers supposedly designed to create jobs and tax revenues. The New York Legislature had approximately eighteen bills introduced seeking to do the same. Only one was adopted and that was aimed at a particular proposed condemnation of a country club.