Eminent domain bill passed in Md. Senate

The Baltimore Sun

Property owners whose land or buildings are taken through eminent domain could reap more compensation from governments under legislation approved yesterday by the Maryland Senate.

The bill, which passed unanimously, would allow for higher compensation packages for property owners, including relocation expenses. For instance, the bill lifts a $10,000 cap on costs to re-establish a farm, small business or nonprofit group, raising it to $60,000. The bill also forces state and local governments to move forward with eminent domain proceedings within three years of initiating the process.

"This certainly doesn't address all of the issues that we wanted, but this is a good first step," said Sen. James E. DeGrange Sr., an Anne Arundel County Democrat and sponsor of the legislation. "Sometimes you have to crawl before you walk."

DeGrange said objections from Baltimore City, which frequently uses its powers of eminent domain, derailed efforts to address instances in which governments use eminent domain for economic development. He said legislators would likely take up that issue again next year.

In the House, Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg, a Baltimore Democrat, has introduced a bill that would enable owners to get additional costs paid, but Rosenberg said yesterday that with less than a week left in the General Assembly session, his chamber would work to pass the Senate bill.

A provision that would pay a property owner "goodwill," or the amount in lost profit attributable to a relocation, has been dropped, the legislators said.


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