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Examining eminent domain laws in Minnesota

Many in Minneapolis may be concerned of government interference in their lives. Chief among their concerns may be that their property will be seized and that they will be left with little legal recourse to stop it. Eminent domain refers to the authority officials have to seize land to be put to public use. However, those worried that this legal principle empowers their local governments to come in and take their homes and the accompanying land from them should know that Minnesota does have laws on the books that regulate its use.

According to the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes, eminent domain may only be applied in cases where land has been designated for public use or purposes. The law defines such use as being:

  •          The occupation, ownership, possession or enjoyment of land by the general public or public agencies.
  •          The development of a public service corporation.
  •          The mitigation or remediation of blighted or environmentally contaminated areas.
  •          The reduction or removal of public nuisances or abandoned property.

Furthermore, the law also states that the perceived public benefits of economic development alone are not enough to be considered a public use or purpose.

Several high profile cases in recent years have prompted many states to revisit their policies regarding eminent domain (and in some case, revise them). The Castle Coalition lists Minnesota as being among one of the states to recently introduce substantive reforms to its laws. Specifically, those include further clarifying that property cannot be condemned for the expressed purpose of commercial development. The changes also reaffirmed that areas must be blighted before being condemned, and that such a course of action is only allowed in the event that rejuvenation is not possible without it. 

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