A Senate committee gave its blessing to a measure increasing the amount of money governmental entities must pay residential property owners when land is acquired for road construction or other public projects through the powers of eminent domain.
SB49, sponsored by Sen. Pete Suazo, D-Salt Lake City, would require that government pay homeowners what it would cost to replace their property, not just the fair market value - or to locate and purchase replacement property for the individual in exchange for the desired land.The change in law could mean an average homeowner would be given tens of thousands of dollars more than is now the case when property is acquired by government, Suazo said. That's only fair to property owners, the senator said, especially those on fixed incomes.
"If only given fair market value, many can't afford to replace their homes or even get a mortgage," Suazo said. "This would hold them harmless."
The bill, as passed out of committee on a 4-2 vote Tuesday, also would require governmental entities to replace or pay replacement value for small farms and businesses.
Municipal representatives argued against that provision, saying it is increasingly more difficult to Wildlife outfitters, guides avoid registering with state find replacement farm and business property as Utah's growth continues. A similar bill, also sponsored by Suazo, was passed by the Legislature last year but was vetoed by the governor.