The City of Jackson, Mississippi, seeks to acquire easier access to a college and to the west side of the City. The fact that there is economic benefit to the community is not a violation of an amendment which limits takings for pure economic or tax benefit. Clearly, roads are needed to facilitate expansions in the economy, but they also provide public safety and simple accessibility for the citizens. This is not the right case to challenge premised upon the recently adopted constitutional amendment.
Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said the project is important because the current layout of County Line Road does not allow direct access to Tougaloo College or the possibility of economic development west of State Street in that area. He said the city first identified the need and funding for the project during his first mayoral term during the 1990s.
The mayor's mention of economic development raises questions in light of the state's new eminent domain law. In November, voters overwhelmingly approved a new law that prevents state and local government from using land procured through eminent domain to be transferred to "any person, non-governmental entity, public-private partnership, corporation, or other business entity" for a period of 10 years.
Exceptions to the law include properties deemed a public nuisance, structures unfit for human habitation and abandoned property.
The purpose of the law was to prohibit government bodies from using eminent domain for private development or enterprise. Governments are, however, still allowed to use the property for drainage and levee facilities, roads, bridges, ports, airports, common carriers and utilities.