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Property Law

Eminent Domain And Zoning

Governments have the right to acquire privately owned land through the exercise of the power of EMINENT DOMAIN. Eminent domain is the right or power of a unit of government or a designated private individual to take private property for public use following the payment of a fair amount of money to the owner of the property. The FIFTH AMENDMENT to the U.S. Constitution states, "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The theory behind eminent domain is that the local government can exercise such power to promote the GENERAL WELFARE in areas of public concern, such as health, safety, or morals.

Government may control how real property is used. ZONING is the regulation and restriction of real property by a local government. The most common form of land use regulation, zoning involves the division of territory based on the character of land and structures and their fitness for particular uses. Municipalities use zoning to control and direct the development of property within their borders, according to present and potential uses of the property. Consideration is given to the conservation of property value and the most appropriate use of the land.

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