You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Eminent domain bill opens condemned land to private development


Georgia lawmakers Thursday approved allowinglocal governments to seize blighted property for economic development, altering eminent domain reforms passed more than a decade ago.

The changes in House Bill 434 worry those concerned that government officials will abuse the power.

“We see this as expanding eminent domain,” said Tochie Blad, a Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods board member. “How do you define blight? It is in the eyes of the beholder.”

House Judiciary Chairman Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said the change will give cities more options in dealing with persistently blighted areas.

The bill has safeguards. For instance, for a government to seize property for an economic development project it has to prove to a judge that the property is blighted and property owners got their day in court to fight the accusation. If they lose, they can appeal the decision.

Once appeals are exhausted, the government can take the property by paying the owners “just compensation” for it and then sell the property to a private developer.

In 2006, Georgia voters signaled their overwhelming preference that governments not use eminent domain for private development, approving a related amendment to the state constitution by an 83 percent majority.

The bill now heads to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. For more about the bill and the fierce debate over governments seizing property for redevelopment, read this week’s AJC Watchdog column here.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Georgia Politics

Georgia’s 6th District now has a bunch of new voters
Georgia’s 6th District now has a bunch of new voters

Georgia’s 6th Congressional District already boasts more than a half-million voters. But the latest group to join the voting rolls may prove to be the most important in the hotly contested June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. More may be coming, as local election officials continue to process...
New council promises results, seeks patience in helping rural Georgia
New council promises results, seeks patience in helping rural Georgia

Members of the newly minted state House Rural Development Council heard a litany of challenges facing the rural parts of Georgia on Monday, as local officials, economists and experts tallied the woes. Rural Georgia is aging rapidly. It is losing population and jobs, it lacks infrastructure and it often struggles to educate its youth. House leaders...
Georgia’s 6th District has added 5,500 voters, with more coming
Georgia’s 6th District has added 5,500 voters, with more coming

More than 5,500 voters have so far been added to the rolls in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District after a federal judge ordered local counties to reopen registration through this past Sunday. The total includes two types of voter: the newly registered, plus so-called “transfer” applications — already registered Georgia voters...
Rural council promises results, asks for patience
Rural council promises results, asks for patience

House Speaker David Ralston on Monday said rural Georgia can’t afford to wait for the next election to find progress and solutions. “Rural Georgia cannot wait on political seasons to come and go because they will always come and go,” the Blue Ridge Republican told the first meeting of the House Rural Development Council. “I...
Problems of rural Georgia easy to find, difficult to fix
Problems of rural Georgia easy to find, difficult to fix

The summer before he graduated high school in 1963, Hasan Hanks helped build what he was certain was the future of his little town on Georgia’s southwestern edge. The Walter F. George Lock and Dam was near completion and would soon form a 45,000-acre lake, with 650 miles of prime shoreline property, and generate enough electricity to power 58...
More Stories