Courts Frown on Economic Development Condemnations in 2002

May 1, 2003

Dana Berliner

While municipalities and states continue to aggressively court private business by offering them other people’s land, their efforts met with decidedly unfavorable results in the courts this year. In the first state supreme court decision in recent years to consider the constitutionality of condemnation for private commercial development in the absence of blight, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the condemnation, commenting that “eminent domain should be used with restraint, not abandon.” Other state courts also rejected so-called “economic development” condemnations and projects on statutory and semi-constitutional grounds. Even the federal courts enjoined economic development condemnations. New York, however, maintained its policy of approving economic development condemnations. Despite that, 2002 certainly continues the trend of courts telling redevelopment agencies that it’s time to put on the brakes.

Courts Frown on Economic Development Condemnations in 2002