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Colorado Property Rights

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.

Colorado Castle Coalition letter grade of

Colorado Property Rights

 

 

 

In 2006, the Colorado General Assembly improved the state’s eminent domain laws by passing House Bill 1411. This bill amended the public use definition for properties so that it did not include private to private transfers, and now protects property owners against private economic developers and from tax revenue enhancements. Unfortunately, the law also states that private property may otherwise be taken solely for the purpose of furthering a public use. This loophole allows municipalities with the opportunity to exercise eminent domain on blighted properties, where the definition of blighted is vague and open for interpretation.

The definition of blight was slightly tightened with the House Bill 1411, where condemning authorities are now required to prove that that taking of the property is essential for the “eradication of blight”.

Summary

Colorado has taken the first steps in securing protection for property owners, however constitutional amendments and securing the definition of blight would further protection for property owners. Also, making blighted property evaluated on a parcel by parcel basis would solidify property owner’s rights. Click to read more about House Bill 1411 in Colorado.

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