at least 34 states have passed some form of eminent domain reform since June 2005, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New London, Conn., in the infamous Kelo case. Builders have always offered a measured response to the Kelo decision, and the NAHB continues to search for a middle ground:
“We support traditional uses of eminent domain by local governments for things such as roads, schools, government buildings, and even blight redevelopment,” says Jerry Howard, the NAHB's executive vice president and CEO.
“And while it's no surprise that Congress and states have been considering legislative responses to eminent domain abuse since the Kelo decision ... we also need to guard against local governments abusing condemnation powers by promoting commercial development at the expense of much-needed housing,” he concludes.
Steven Anderson, director of the Institute for Justice's Castle Coalition, says the eminent domain reforms are broken into two categories: measures that have dealt with blight and those that haven't. The measures are typically citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives, reforms presented to the public by state legislatures, or state legislation.
Anderson says the more substantial measures define blight as property that poses public health and safety threats to the community. He says many states define blight so broadly that practically every neighborhood in the country could be considered blighted.
“The states with the strongest reforms define blight as it was originally intended, property that poses a public health and safety threat,” says Anderson.