May 25, 2019

Legislation: Governor Signs Agricultural Eminent Domain Bill into Law

With his signature, Governor Bill Ritter enacted historic legislation that curbs the state’s right-of-way in “blighted” agricultural land eyed by developers for urban renewal.

Sponsored by House Deputy Majority Whip Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins) and Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora), HB 10-1107 more narrowly construes when farmland may be considered “blight,” with the intended effect of limiting private developers’ ability to purchase inexpensive farming land seized under eminent domain —  and at taxpayer’s expense. The bill passed both legislative houses with wide bipartisan support before landing on the governor’s desk for his signature.

Rep. Fischer told the Colorado House Democrats blog:

When I travel to Denver on my way to the State Capitol, I pass by acre upon acre of verdant irrigated farmland. How can anyone confuse productive farm land with abandoned or derelict buildings and crime ridden streets that are characteristic of urban blight? I can’t and I don’t think most Colorado citizens can either. We need to recognize in statute what is common sense: Farm land is not urban blight.

Not only does the measure prevent fertile farmland from being condemned and open to redevelopment, but it also ensures that tax dollars intended to rehabilitate real urban blight — slums, ramshackle buildings, and other urban areas fallen into dangerous disrepair — accomplish just that.

(image source: Wikimedia Commons)

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