Strong majority against eminent domain - 353 participants

Sep 11, 2016

This week in Portsmouth, the city council voted to take land by eminent domain from businessman James Boyle. City officials want to take a 4.6-acre portion of Boyle’s land, which is currently vacant, to preserve a nearly 50 year old sewer line that serves residents on Lois Street and a portion of Middle Road. Read more about this issue. On September 11, Citizens Count, NH’s Live Free or Die Alliance decided to put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should towns be able to take privately owned land by eminent domain?”

“Should towns be able to take privately owned land by eminent domain?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Eminent Domain NH Citizen Voices Chart

Participation: 353 participants gave 735 responses

A total of 90% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 10% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, this question received 735 responses from 353 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said:

No: The majority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 91%, opposed allowing towns to take privately owned land by eminent domain.

  • “Whether or not you are paid a ‘fair’ price for your property, being forced to sell against your will is still wrong.”
  • “If the town wants it that badly, they can negotiate an offer with the legal owner of the property, and come to a closing deal at the owners discretion. If they don't or can't make a high enough offer, then too bad. That's how business works.”
  • “This should not be a policy in any place where the state’s function is to preserve freedom and uphold the rights of man.”

Yes: A minority, at 9% of ‘yes or no’ respondents, were in favor of allowing towns to take privately owned land by eminent domain.

  • “Yes. There’s a time and a place for it, where the greed of an individual doesn’t override the good of the community.”
  • “If they decide the land is needed for public works. NH's constitution is pretty clear. We just further clarified it a few years ago.”
  • “If land is wasting away and they have a good use for it, then yes.”

Other: As noted above, 10% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • The complex nature of eminent domain: “Seems they should evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”
  • The nature of ownership:  “You buy land but are told what you can and can’t do with it—yet they say it’s your property?”
  • The specifics of the case: “Seems like they need a new sewer line anyway [after] 50 years.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Should towns be able to take privately owned land by eminent domain? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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