Ohio Outlaws Eminent Domain
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that a Cincinnati suburb cannot take private property by eminent domain for a $125 million project of offices, shops, and restaurants.
The case was the first challenge of property rights laws to reach a state high court since the U.S. Supreme Court last summer allowed municipalities to seize homes for use by a private developer.
The case involves the city of Norwood, which used its power of eminent domain to seize properties holding out against private development in an area considered to be deteriorating.
The court found that economic development isn’t a sufficient reason under the state constitution to justify taking homes. In the ruling, Justice Maureen O’Connor said cities may consider economic benefits but courts deciding such cases must “apply heightened scrutiny” to assure private citizens’ property rights. Targeting property because it is in a deteriorating area is unconstitutional because the term is too vague and requires speculation, the court found.