Eminent Domain Debate Hits Airports

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The growing furor over the alleged abuse of local governments employing "eminent domain" powers to grab land from the existing property owners could threaten GA airports in Alabama, according to the FAA. The agency's Mississippi Airport District Office has written the Alabama Department of Transportation saying eminent domain legislation now before the State Assembly could prevent local authorities from keeping trees trimmed and providing enough space for the safe operation of about 90 publicly owned, public-use airports, according to a report in Alabama Aviator. Eminent domain is the power of a government to take over private property if it's regarded as necessary for the community as a whole. Until a Supreme Court ruling last year, that meant property for widening roads, installing services or creating parks. But the city of New London, Conn., took eminent domain a step further last summer and seized private property so that it could be redeveloped by private interests. The Supreme Court ruled in the city's favor, saying that economic development is a well-established role of civic government. In the same decision, the court ruled that state governments could put curbs on the use of eminent domain by civic governments. Most states have either created new eminent domain laws or are in the process.