Eminent Domain Caselaw in Nebraska

December 17, 2004 at 2:25am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

Just for fun I gathered some references to eminent domain from Nebraska law and a few Attorney General opinions.

  • Private property may not be taken under the power of eminent domain for a private use.  Burger v. City of Beatrice, 181 Neb. 213, 147 N.W.2d 784 (1967). (cite)
  • Right of eminent domain cannot be exercised for purely private purpose.  Vetter v. Broadhurst, 100 Neb. 356, 160 N.W. 109 (1916). (cite)
  • From an opinion by Attorney General Don Stenberg in 1995:
    In summary, property owners are quite limited in the remedies available to them when a municipality declares their property as substandard or blighted pursuant to the Nebraska Community Development Law. So long as a city and its community redevelopment authority strictly follow statutory procedural requirements, the city has the right to exercise eminent domain, notwithstanding a property owner’s objection. The fact that a business or farm physically occupies the property would go to the amount of compensation, not the right of the city to acquire the property. To prevent the taking, the property owner would have to find a procedural irregularity, either in a statute or in the city’s redevelopment plan, or be able to articulate why the taking is in fact not for a public purpose. Case law indicates public hearings are not required before property can be declared blighted, absent a statutory mandate. It is only necessary that the property meet the statutory definition of substandard or blighted property, and that the property owner can address any grievances in court.
  • Ano ther Attorney General opinion, this one written in 1981 to a request from Senator Ernie Chambers.
  • A 1991 opinion on eminent domain had this to say about the definition of “public purpose:”
    A public purpose has for its objective the promotion of the public health, safety, morals, security, prosperity, contentment, and the general welfare of all the inhabitants. No hard and fast rule can be laid down for determining whether a proposed expenditure of public funds is valid as devoted to a public use or purpose~ Each case must be decided with reference to the object sought to be accomplished and to the degree and manner in which that object affects the public welfare.
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