Land ownership has long been something highly prized in modern society. Buying a home, for example, is an integral component of the quintessential American dream.

Private ownership of land, however, may be upended by law or a power referred to as eminent domain. At its core, eminent domain allows the government, or another condemning entity, to take ownership of land previously owned by a private party for select reasons designed to benefit the public. The government or other entity then must adequately compensate the landowner in exchange for their property.

Current eminent domain action in Ohio

A piece of land referred to as the Newark Earthworks is the subject of a current eminent domain case in the state of Ohio. The Newark Advocate reports that the matter will be reviewed by the Ohio State Supreme Court.

While the property is owned by the Ohio Historical Connection, the Moundbuilders Country Club has leased the property since 1910. Since 1933, the country club has been a tenant of the Ohio Historical Connection. Since 2018, state history officials have attempted to buy back the property’s lease from the country club in order to nominate the land to the World Heritage List. Because the property is currently used by a private country club, lack of public access to the land would make it nearly impossible to research the land for the nomination. By using their eminent domain authority, the Ohio Historical Connection hopes to eliminate this issue. The state’s Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a lower courts ruling from the country club which allows the lease to be terminated through eminent domain.

Laws concerning eminent domain

As explained by the National Conference of State Legislators, each state may enact unique legislation regarding eminent domain matters. Laws tend to focus on specific areas such as identification of the processes involved in enacting eminent domain authority or how public use may be defined.

Other laws focus on finding ways to prevent the use of land for financial gain, including the reduction of a tax burden. Transference of land to another private individual for financial gain is another action that many laws aim to prevent.

Eminent domain is a complex subject and the options available to move forward vary greatly on a case-by-case basis. An attorney experienced with eminent domain and real estate law can assist with assessing the situation.