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Ohio 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.

Ohio Castle Coalition letter grade of

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In 2006, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Norwood v. Horney that the Ohio Constitution does not permit a condemning authority to use eminent domain just for economic development. This ruling implied that other forms of scrutiny must be used in order to uphold the state laws, and that a condemning authority cannot deem a property blighted, assuming that in the future it will become blighted.

Soon after, the Ohio General Assembly temporarily formed a task force committee that was essentially put in place to study the effects of eminent domain. This committee imposed a state-wide memorandum on the taking of private properties that were not blighted, when the taking was for the purpose of economic development. The committee proved significant reform and significantly helped property owners, however the existence of the committee expired at the end of 2006.

Soon after in 2007 Senate Bill 7 was passed, which tightened the condemning authorities’ power, but also left room for un-substantial claims regarding blighted property. For instance, in a neighborhood, only 70 percent of the property needed to be considered blighted for the designation to be upheld.

Summary

The attempted establishment of a committee helped the state of Ohio; however the state is still highly in need of legislation reform that will fully protect property owners. The state’s definition of “blight” needs to be tightened, and economic development needs be banished from state law as a permissible purpose for eminent domain to be sued. Click below to read more about the task force committee and some of the recent eminent domain changes.

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