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February 28, 2023
Ohio lags behind most states in protections for landowners, according to the Ohio Farm Bureau. When Ohio landowners are faced with losing property rights through eminent domain, the law makes it difficult for them to defend their own interests, and they often find themselves at a disadvantage, OFB says.
House Bill 64, introduced by state Rep. Darrell Kick, R-Loudonville, and state Rep. Rodney Creech, R-West Alexandria, would create a more direct legal route for a landowner to receive compensation when property is taken by the government without compensation, using a court action called inverse condemnation.
In most states, when a property owner files an eminent domain case in court, the court starts by determining if there was indeed a taking of land or property value, and if the owner is owed compensation. If so, the same court handles the trial to set the amount of compensation to the landowner.
Ohio law, on the other hand, requires a landowner to first file a lawsuit to force the government or entity taking property to follow the law, then separately go through the eminent domain process. The farmer must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the law wasn’t followed, a high standard of proof to meet.
“This legislation would give safeguards to landowners across Ohio to protect them from government and utilities taking property,” says Adam Sharp, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau. “We appreciate Reps. Kick and Creech for bringing this issue forward and offering a path to bring Ohio in line with almost all other state and federal laws when it comes to eminent domain.”
“How eminent domain is used has always been a concern of mine,” Kick says. “While the ability to utilize eminent domain is important, I want to make sure landowners have a say, so that power is not abused.”
The proposed bill would also allow landowners to challenge the necessity of takings, require a “good faith” offer for compensation, penalize coercive action and grant landowners mandatory attorney fees for successful defense of appeals.
“This legislation is necessary to ensure that those who can’t afford to defend their land from eminent domain have a policy in place to better protect their property rights,” Creech says.
Source: Ohio Farm Bureau
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