Understanding Government Exercise of Eminent Domain in the State of Georgia
Eminent domain is the rights and power of the government and authorities such as the department of transportation or utility companies to condemn and acquire private property for public use. It is critical that one makes a distinction between the government's power of eminent domain and the government’s police powers.
The governments police powers allow a government entity to ensure that the private property is used in a manner that is not detrimental to the public interest whereas the exercise of an eminent domain involves taking of private property for public use.
So does this mean that private property owners in the state of Georgia are at the mercy of the government? In short, yes and no. If you are surprised, read further.
Thankfully, the United States Constitution and the Georgia Constitution provide some relief for the protection of private property owners. Most notably, the government must provide the property owners with just and fair compensation of the market value of the property taken. However, the US Supreme Court has ruled that the government has an inherent power to condemn private land for public use.
So generally, unless the government exercises its power of eminent domain procedurally wrong or the government abuses its power by exercising duress or fraud, the private property owners are limited to challenge the government on the fair compensation market value that government shall pay, not the act of condemnation itself.
The exercise of government's power of eminent domain for a public purpose is codified in Article One of the Official Code of Georgia and Article One of the Constitution of the State of Georgia. Further, the General Assembly has laid out strict procedures for the government’s exercising of the power of an eminent domain. As such, condemnation proceedings in Georgia are mostly statutory and functions of the legislative branch.
This Article is not intended to provide legal advice or replace the advice of counsel. If you would like more information on condemnation defense, contact our experienced team of legal advisors. We are proud to fight fiercely and defend Georgia private property owners against government taking of private property.