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Maine 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.

Maine Castle Coalition letter grade of

Maine Property Rights

 

 

 

The state of Maine has taken a few small steps toward protecting property owners since Kelo v. City of New London in 2005. Legislative Document 1870 was passed and states that a condemning authority cannot condemn private property for private retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development. The document also states that eminent domain cannot be used primarily for the enhancement of tax revenue.

Unfortunately, due to the loose language in this legislative document, specifically the word “primarily”, condemning authorities and municipalities can easily get around the law. The definition of blighted property was not addressed in this document, which leaves condemning authorities the opportunity to pursue the eminent domain process under the states definition of blight.

Summary

What the state needs to see is an amendment that will address the definition of blighted and will prevent municipalities from taking private property for private use. The state has ceased to see real change concerning eminent domain, thus property owners are left without protection and with the threat of eminent domain from private developers. If the state were to tighten the language of the legislative document and include a tightened definition of blight, property owners would have significant protection in place.

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