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New Hampshire 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.

 

New Hampshire Castle Coalition letter grade of

New Hampshire Property Owners

In 2006, the New Hampshire governor signed Senate Bill 287, which effectively eliminated private property transfers for private persons and developments. The bill stated that condemnation proceedings under the definition of “public use” shall not include public benefits resulting from things like private economic development and private commercial enterprises, which includes tax increased revenues and increased employment opportunities. The only thing missing from this bill is language that prevents blighted properties from being acquired. Although Senate Bill 287 does require property by property evaluation of blighted land, the definition of blight is very loose and vague.

Also in 2006, legislators voted in favor of a new provision, CACR 30, which proposed a constitutional amendment that effectively eliminated private property transfers for private use or private development. This provisional amendment proved that legislators understood the eminent domain abuse that was occurring, and that private property owners needed protection against eminent domain proceedings that were solely for a private gain.

Summary

Since Kelo v. City of New London, the state of New Hampshire has seen a significant amount of reform. Not only has the state provided protection against private property transfers, the state has also required blighted areas to be evaluated on a property by property basis. If the definition of blight would have been tightened, the state would see unassailable protection against eminent domain abuse, which would uphold the right to own and use private property.  Click to read more about Senate Bill 287.

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