Maine Eminent Domain Laws can be found in Title 1 Chapter 21 of Maine Revised Statutes. The provisions relating to the purchase of real estate are explained in § 814[i]. Pursuant to 1 M.R.S. § 814, whenever the Governor determines that public exigencies require the construction of additional buildings, structures, parking spaces or other facilities for the expansion of state government in the capitol area, the governor may purchase or take by eminent domain real estate in Augusta.
1 M.R.S. § 814 further provides that all eminent domain proceedings must be in accordance with Title 35-A, chapter 65. 35-A M.R.S. § 6502 provides that the party taking the property should file the location and map of the property with the county commissioners of the county where the property is located.
Further, the owner or the taker should petition the county commissioners for the assessment of damages on account of property taken by eminent domain. S/he should also notify the adverse party of the time and place of the hearing on the petition[ii].
The county commissioners in awarding damages for property taken by eminent domain may prescribe terms and conditions for the use of the property taken that will best accommodate the owner and the taker[iii].
1 M.R.S. § 815 provides that if an entity that has taken property by eminent domain fails to use the property for the project or purpose for which that property was taken, the condemnee or the condemnee’s heirs have a right of first refusal to purchase the property.
The right may be exercised at a price equal to the total compensation paid to the condemnee for the taking plus an adjustment for any improvements made to the property and for changes in inflation based upon the Consumer Price Index.
The right of first refusal automatically terminates once the property is used for the project or purpose for which that property was taken[iv]. Also, the purpose of a taking may be passive in nature, including conservation or preservation.
1 M.R.S. § 815 further provides that if a property is not used for the purpose for which it was taken after eight years from the date of condemnation, the entity must reaffirm the need to retain the property for that purpose by giving notice to the public of its continuing intent to use the property for that purpose.
Notice to the public is by publication, twice, consecutively, in a daily or weekly newspaper having general circulation in the municipality or political subdivision in which the property is located.
Limitations on the eminent domain authority are provided in § 816. Pursuant to 1 M.R.S. § 816, the state and any other entity with eminent domain authority may not condemn land used for agriculture, fishing, forestry, or land improved with residential homes, commercial, industrial buildings, or other structures:
- For the purposes of private retail, office, commercial, industrial or residential development;
- Primarily for the enhancement of tax revenue; or
- For transfer to an individual or a for-profit business entity.
However, the limitation on eminent domain authority does not apply to the use of eminent domain by any municipality, housing authority, or other public entity on just compensation[v].
Similarly, the limitation does not apply to the exercise of eminent domain by or for the benefit of public utilities or other entities engaged in the generation, transmission or distribution of telephone, gas, electric, water, sewer or other utility products or services.
[i] 1 M.R.S. § 814.
[ii] 35-A M.R.S. § 6504.
[iii] 35-A M.R.S. § 6505.
[iv] 1 M.R.S. § 815.
[v] 1 M.R.S. § 816.