Minnesota Feeling the Pinch from Eminent Domain

Minnesota Feeling the Pinch from Eminent Domain

Minnesota landowners have reason to fear that mining companies may use eminent domain to take their land.  While property owners own the surface land and their homes, they don’t own the minerals beneath it.

The mineral rights are currently owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  But they are leasing those rights without notification to the property owners.  Although the sale of mineral rights is prohibited by Minnesota Law, it does not prohibit leasing.  With these mineral rights the owner can explore for minerals and mine.  The residents that built on the land own the surface rights but that may not prevent the mining companies from taking their land through eminent domain.  The mining companies would then have to pay for damages to the surface.  It is unclear whether the land owners at one point or another had an opportunity to purchase mineral rights and the reasons behind not taking such precautions.

Some landowners believe that a 2006 state law that prohibits taking land by eminent domain for economic development purposes should protect their property rights.  When they heard their leases were going up for sale, they appealed to the state’s Executive Council, which must approve mineral leases.  The council delayed the sale of the leases to give them time to push for a change in state law.

The landowners have reached out to Rep. Nora Slawik.  Slawik sponsored a bill that would prohibit the use of condemnation to take land if no agreement is reached.  They did not get a hearing and now she is asking the attorney general to issue an opinion on whether the state’s eminent domain laws could be interpreted in the landowners’ favor.

We believe that no one should have their property taken unless it is for a public purpose and full and just compensation is paid.  North Carolina citizens have this right protected in the North Carolina Constitution.

If you have condemnation questions, please feel free to call the eminent domain attorneys at Fisher Stark, P.A. at 828.505.4300.