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Phoenix and the broad power of eminent domain

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2020 | Uncategorized |

In 2006, the city of Phoenix put up a concrete barrier between the light rail tracks and one John Garretson’s property, which blocked two driveways leading from the street to Garretson’s property. Garretson sought damages for his loss of access to the street, though he had access to a different street. The Supreme Court, In City of Phoenix v. Garretson, held that the government may not eliminate a property owner’s access to a roadway without providing just compensation to the property owner. The Court also said that an owner may claim compensable damage to private property, even if other streets provide access to the property.

Eminent domain

Eminent domain is the authority granted to the government to take or damage private property, also called condemnation. Article 2 Section 17 authorizes the government to use eminent domain if the taking is for a public use and the government pays the owner just compensation.

Public use and necessity

In Arizona, public use includes use of the land by the public, promoting the public welfare, or promoting the purposes of a government entity. Article 2 Section 17 of the Arizona Constitution proscribes the taking of private property for private use, except for private ways of necessity, such as drains, flumes, ditches, mining, agriculture, or sanitary purposes.

Section 17 also proscribes private property being taken or damaged for public or private use without just compensation being made to the owner. Whenever the government attempts to take private property for a public use, the court will determine whether the use is actually public.

Contacting an attorney experienced with eminent domain cases can assist those in need of help filing a claim against a government taking based on eminent domain.