What Are the Legal Requirements for Exercising the Power of Eminent Domain?

October 7, 2021


Generally, in Illinois there are five basic requirements for exercising the power of eminent domain. First, the condemning authority must have the legal authority to use the power of eminent domain. This means that there must be specific statutory authority to acquire private property by eminent domain. In addition, for all condemnations other than those initiated by the State and its agencies, the condemning authority must have an enabling ordinance or resolution authorizing the use of eminent domain for the particular public purpose. Second, the use of eminent domain must be for a public purpose. Third, the condemnation of private property must be “necessary” for the public purpose. Fourth, the condemning authority must adequately describe the private property it seeks to acquire. Finally, the condemning authority must attempt to agree on the amount of compensation for the property prior to initiating any court proceedings to take the property by eminent domain. In Illinois, this “attempt to agree” requires the condemning authority to undertake “good faith negotiations” with the private property owner before filing any condemnation proceedings.

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