Eminent Domain and the Master Plan

Asked September 27, 2019, 1:17 PM EDT

Can a municipality seize property through eminent domain if it is not in their Master Plan or other planning document?

Oakland County Michigan community planning and zoning eminent domain master planning

3 Responses

When a government condemns privately owned land by exercising its power of 'eminent domain,' it must do so in a fair way (through due process), the property must only be used for a “public use,” and it must compensate the property owner a fair market amount for the property taken (takings). As a part of its 'due process' requirements, a local government should have an updated master plan that discusses future public land uses such as roadways, water/sewer line expansion, and more. A government can also condemn property as part of a "blight" removal program. The condemned property is then often used for economic development projects and can end up being sold to a private developer. In this instance, a "redevelopment plan" for the area in question needs to be adopted by the local government.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question, I appreciate it.

My city's Planning Commission recently adopted a Downtown Master Plan from the DDA. Included in that document is a redevelopment proposal which specifies extending a public roadway through existing private property to connect to a thoroughfare. The current property owners were shocked and very concerned.

Should the residents and property owners be concerned? Should the Master Master plan be changed to ensure this is not a possibility in the future?

I definitely recommend that you speak to the director of your city planning department to ask questions about the project or plan. You can also speak to the director of public works or someone in charge of planning and maintaining the roadways in your city. Both of these staff persons will have more details for you as far as timelines, project alternatives, studies and other info that you can learn from. You might consider contacting a law office that works with real estate or eminent domain cases if you need more information or if you need help understanding all of the details of this project/plan.Thank you for your inquiry.