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What to know about eminent domain laws

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Eminent Domain |

Eminent domain allows the government to take control of private property and convert it for public use.

In Minnesota, state and federal laws regulate this power to ensure fairness and protection for property owners. Understanding these laws helps you protect your rights in this situation.


The government must follow two important rules when taking someone’s property. First, they must pay the owner a fair price for their land. Second, the taking has to be for the good of the public. Public use typically refers to projects that benefit the community as a whole. The most common uses are government buildings, highways, railroads and public utilities.


The government must follow a specific process when it acquires private property through eminent domain.

  • Determine a need to use eminent domain for a public use purpose
  • Identify the area needed for the project
  • Give notice to the owner
  • Appraise the property with an independent appraiser
  • Provide the owner with fair compensation for their land

If you cannot reach a compensation agreement, the government may initiate condemnation proceedings to obtain the property.


Chapter 117 of the Minnesota Statutes governs eminent domain laws in the state. These laws outline several key points you should know. All government bodies, including cities with their own laws, have the authority to take private land for public use. However, the government group must prove that taking the property serves a legitimate public purpose, such as road construction or urban renewal. Economic development benefits, like an increase in tax base, tax revenues, employment or general financial health, do not count as public use alone.

The law allows local governments to take land to fix problems like run-down buildings or pollution. To do so, they must follow certain rules and hold public meetings to make decisions. The law also outlines specific compensation procedures.

Challenging an eminent domain process, negotiating compensation and protecting your rights are complex tasks. They require knowing the laws related to your area and circumstances. Understanding these statutes allows you to assert your rights and safeguard your property.