The Conservative View
by Russell Turner
For any city or area to grow the need for infrastructure is paramount. Without utilities and roads it is impossible to have good, healthy growth. In a perfect world easements that are needed for the roads and utilities could be purchased from the landowners and construction could start immediately. Sadly we do not live in a perfect world. Often the landowners have built their homes and improvements in the area where the land will be needed. When this happens it always creates friction between the landowner and the government agency that needs the land. I am a firm believer in the right of private property but I also understand the need for the greater good. If the need for the land is so great, every effort must be made to pay the affected landowner a fair price for his or her land. If the negotiations come to an impasse, the government can use eminent domain to force the sale of the land in question. I feel that eminent domain should only be used as a last resort and used as little as possible. At times the use of eminent domain has been abused and the landowner has become a victim of the government. There is a bill before the state legislature that, if enacted, could provide more protection for the citizens of Oklahoma.
House Bill 3053, by state Rep. Pat Ownbey, would force agencies to declare unused land surplus and offer to resell it to the original owner after 10 years. Many times land is taken for some project and then later, for a variety of reasons, the project will be canceled and the land will not be used for the purpose that it was originally taken for. This bill makes it possible for an individual to get their property back if it is not being used. For example, if a person’s land is taken to build a road on it and, for some reason the project falls apart, the original landowner should be able to get their property back even if the government would like to keep it for some future purpose. We citizens should not have to worry about the government taking our property unnecessarily. HB 3053 will give our citizens more protection from the improper use of eminent domain. Government should be in the business of protecting our liberties and freedoms and stay out of the Realty business.
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