Eminent Domain allows the government to take property if they need it. In return the must give “just compensation” for the land that they need. I agree that this is the right thing because without it, many large projects would not be able to be constructed. We need these projects and we need the land but is the compensation always just.

In a video found via Google named “NJ Turnpike Authority Leaves Burger Joint High and Dry” outlines how a local burger place, Burger Express, was taken for the land and left the renters in a big hole. In this case the land was owned by a person who rented it to the Burger Express owner. The owner of the land got paid but the renters were not nearly as lucky. This forced them to move their business, lose their customer base and their prime location. They were forced to move the location and although they were “compensated” along with the property owner, they were in a said $300,000 hole. The burger express owner summed it up in three words, “We got screwed”.

What led me to this video was that I worked as an intern on the New Jersey Turnpike. During my summer internship I worked near private property. One man in particular had his land taken by eminent domain. I remember him in particular because he was not happy with his settlement. He hated the construction and having people work on and near his property. He went as far as standing in his yard with a shotgun while watching us work (Yes, we called the cops). But in his case he felt he was not justly compensated because now he has less land and the turnpike is that much closer to his home.

In both cases the owners/renters were compensated but was it enough? What is seen as just to an arbitrator may not be to the owner. These people work hard for their land and their businesses and it so easy for the government to take it. A $300,000 debt is not just compensation and can really be life changing for the owners. What is a small piece of property that the government needs seems like nothing in the grand scheme of things but to those affected sometimes suffer life changing consequences.

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