Arizona Property Rights

In 1998 in the city of New London, Connecticut, a plant was built by the drug company, Pfizer. Officials of the City attempted to purchase 115 residential homes to turn around and sell to commercial developers. When fifteen residents resisted, the City turned to its power of eminent domain to take the land.  One resident, Susette Kelo, opposed the taking through a legal challenge. The case ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the taking by the City of New London. The Court’s decision sparked a nationwide debate, fueled in part by disserting comments in the opinion.  Justice Clarence Thomas accused the verdict of violating the Fifth Amendment’s “public use” standard because property was forcibly transferred from one private owner to another.

Many states in the US, including Arizona, reacted strongly to this ruling and amended their property statutes. The Private Property Rights Protection Acts were instituted as an effort to prevent another situation, such as the Kelo vs. New London case, from happening in Arizona. Eminent domain rulings in Arizona require a judicial determination ensuring that the claimed usage of the land will indeed be “public.”

If you think you may be in danger of eminent domain violations against your property, contact an experienced Arizona eminent domain attorney immediately. Call (480)-428-3572 for a consultation, and I can help you with any questions or concerns you have about your Arizona Property Rights.

Bailey’s Brake Shop: Could this Happen Again in Arizona?

As construction on the Mesa light-rail extension project is set to begin in 2013, many private businesses and property owners will be facing efforts by the City to acquire all or part of the impacted properties. The 3.1 mile extension into downtown Mesa is clearly a public project, thus appropriate for using the power of eminent domain to acquire the land needed for the project from private owners. This is in contrast to the City’s attempts several years ago to improve the downtown corridor.

In April of 2002, an Arizona judge’s ruling allowed the City to seize Bailey’s Brake Shop, a family-owned business, operating in the same location for over 30 years. The City wanted to sell Randy Bailey’s property to an Ace Hardware store, failing to acknowledge that it is against the Constitution to take property from one private owner and give it to another private owner. However, the City argued that they were seizing the property for redevelopment on the claim that the property was blighted and that redevelopment of the property was necessary in the interest of public welfare.

The Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter represented Randy Bailey in an appeal, and on October 1, 2003, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled against the City of Mesa’s use of eminent domain, protecting Bailey’s Brake Shop from seizure. The Arizona Court of Appeals overturned the earlier decision, stating that the taking was not proper. The opinion went on to outline a series of questions to be considered when evaluating if a taking is truly for a public purpose. Accordingly, cases like Bailey’s Brake Shop are not likely, but the potential for abuse still remains.

The use of eminent domain by local governments is becoming more common and less lawful throughout the United States. If you or anyone you know may be facing eminent domain, I urge you to meet with an experienced Arizona eminent domain attorney that can help you understand your options. Protect your property rights as an American citizen by calling (480)-428-3572 to set up a consultation.