Since the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London many states across the country have taken measures to help protect the rights of private ownership. The controversial Kelo decision held that a local government can take the private property of one person and give it to another private entity. While the Court’s ruling was seen by many as a serious blow to citizen’s constitutionally protected rights of private property ownership, the decision prompted a number of states to initiate legislative reform to help curb eminent domain abuse.
The Castle Coalition has released a report, grading each of the states based on their efforts to protect private property owners and their rights based on changes in their respective state laws. The Castle Coalition is the Institute for Justice’s nationwide grassroots property rights activism project that teaches home and small business owners how to protect themselves and stand up to abuse by governments and developers who seek to use eminent domain to take private property for their own gain. Stated below is the letter grade, as given by the Castle Coalition, along with a description of the changes that have occurred since Kelo v. City of New London.
The state of Kentucky has seen very little reform since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London in 2005. Just a year later, the state passed House Bill 508, which provided little reform for property owners, despite an attempt to tighten the state’s definition of blight. The bill did not prevent the government from condemning so-called blighted areas and neighborhoods in their entirety, meaning property owners are vulnerable against hungry developers and private developments. Another loophole in the bill allows for the possibility of non-blighted property to be handed over to private entities, if the purpose is for development. The largest loophole, however, lies within the vague and non-descript definition of blighted. Even after House Bill 508 was passed, property owners are still at risk for unjust blighted property designations to entire neighborhoods.
The little legislative reform that the state of Kentucky has seen has not helped curb eminent domain abuse, and leaves privately owned homes and businesses open to the threat of unjust takings. The state needs to get the loopholes closed by including a more narrow definition of blighted, parcel by parcel evaluation of so-called blighted areas, and the elimination of private to private property transfers. If this is seen, private property owners in Kentucky will surely be protected. Click to read more about House Bill 508.