Takings Initiatives Accountability Project

Published — December 21, 2006


Understanding the Takings Iniaitives Terminology


Ballot initiative. A procedure by which a specified number of voters may, by means of a petition, propose a statute, constitutional amendment, or ordinance and compel a popular vote on its adoption. For more, see Wikipedia entry for initiative.

Eminent domain. The inherent power of the government to expropriate private property without the owner’s consent, either for its own use or by delegation of its taking power to third parties for “public uses,” the most common examples being public utilities or railroads. For more, see Wikipedia entry.

Kelo v. City of New London. A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision (545 U.S. 469) that upheld the plans of New London, Connecticut, to condemn homes and transfer the land to private interests to further commercial and residential development on the ground that such a plan was in the public interest and therefore was permissible under the government’s eminent-domain power. For more, see Wikipedia entry.

Land-use planning. The scientific, aesthetic, and orderly disposition of land, resources, facilities, and services with a view to securing the physical, economic and social efficiency, health, and well-being of urban and rural communities. From the Canadian Institute of Planners; for more, see Wikipedia entry.

Referendum. The principle or practice of referring measures proposed or passed by a legislative body to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection. For more, see Wikipedia entry.

Regulatory taking. When a government deprives a person of the use of property by the application of regulations that have not changed the ownership of the property. For more, see Wikipedia entry.

Takings clause. The clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that requires the federal government (and, through the 14th Amendment, each state) to compensate the owner of property taken by eminent domain (stating that “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”) State constitutions typically contain similar provisions. For more, see Wikipedia entry for eminent domain.

Zoning. A system of land-use regulation derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one part of a community from another. For more, see Wikipedia entry.

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