Eminent domain has always been a contentious issue in Colorado, but recently has been even more so due to the fact that RTD is taking over a great deal of personal property for their FasTracks program. Just this week, homeowners in a brand-new condominium development near the Platte River downtown were informed that they would have to leave their homes — the new development was going to be demolished so that RTD could build a new light rail maintenance facility. Homeowners west of the city are also getting their eviction notices as RTD furthers plans to build its west line to Golden.
Because eminent domain is so controversial, it is important to understand the legal issues of the practice. You can find out more about what the Legislature is doing about eminent domain in Colorado by reading the Legislative Council’s short, simple explanation in their fact sheet entitled Eminent Domain Legislation. If you are a property owner whose property has the potential to be acquired by the government through eminent domain, you do have rights. The Colorado Department of Transportation has published a guide for property owners addressing issues of compensation, etc. On a more technical level, CDOT also publishes the Right-of-Way Manual which they describe as providing “guidance in all phases of acquiring, managing and disposing of real property. It is based on federal and state statutes, rules, policies and procedures related to real estate, condemnation, and relocation.” The information in the manual is rather technical in nature but provides thorough guidance on government property acquisition procedures, including eminent domain. Be sure, also, to check the Denver newspapers. With all the FasTracks issues, the dailies are full of articles and editorials on the issue.