Can Eminent Domain Be Used for Private Use?

This question is best answered by dividing the question into two parts. First, can the government take a private individual’s land and convey it to a private actor? Second, can a private entity exercise the power of eminent domain to take a private individual’s land for its own use?

Can the government exercise eminent domain and then convey it to a private actor?

The question of whether eminent domain may be used for private use is a question that has sparked much controversy in recent years among Americans. The Supreme Court in a landmark case studied by law students around the country called Kelo v. City of New London essentially allowed for the exercise of eminent domain by a city government in order to allow for private economic development. The Court in Kelo stated that the private economic development of the land being condemned was a public purpose since the development plan would stimulate the economy in New London, Connecticut. Therefore, eminent domain can be exercised for private use so long as the private use is beneficial to the public by stimulating jobs, tax revenue, and other forms of public benefit. This same law holds true in North Carolina as well.

However, North Carolina has codified some of its eminent domain powers into laws that further allow private entities to exercise eminent domain. It should be noted that the caveat of “public benefit” remains as a requirement before any entity may exercise the power.

Can private entities exercise the power of eminent domain to take a private individual’s land for its own use?

In North Carolina, private entities have been given the right to exercise eminent domain through statute so long as the exercise of the power is for a public use or benefit (see N.C.G.S. Chapter 40A). What constitutes a public use or benefit is a topic of that will sometimes be decided in a condemnation proceeding in the courts. Usually, the private entities that will exercise eminent domain rights will be utility providers such as power companies, railroads, or telephone companies.

The procedures for private entities practicing eminent domain and government entities in North Carolina are different. Therefore, it is imperative that you consult an eminent domain attorney who can help you navigate this process.

Our firm focuses on three practice areas: Disability, Personal Injury, and Eminent Domain. Every practice area has attorneys who have expertise in their respective area of practice. 

Chad Brown is a North Carolina Board Certified Social Security disability law specialist. Mr. Brown helps Social Security disability claimants at all stages of the disability process. He also works with people that have Long Term Disability denials and with people that are injured by drugs and defective medical products.

Your Questions Answered

Can Eminent Domain Take Your House?

The question assumes that eminent domain is a person or entity that can do something. Eminent domain is a tool, not an entity or person. It is analogous to a specific type of wrench that allows a mechanic to perform a specific task. The idea that the government may...

read more

Can Eminent Domain Be Used for Private Use?

Although to some it might seem inherently wrong for the government to take a private citizen’s property and give it to a private entity, that can indeed happen. The United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. New London, a landmark Supreme Court case in 2005, established...

read more

Can Eminent Domain be Stopped?

When challenging an action for eminent domain, the property owner generally has two avenues. The two avenues that can be used to stop or challenge a taking are found in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. First, the property owner can challenge the...

read more