As natural gas production only continues to increase in Philadelphia, many residents have worried about losing their land to natural gas companies via eminent domain. According to Forbes, eminent domain is typically reserved for governmental use. This allows the government to build roads or other infrastructure that serves the public interest. In these instances, people receive payment for allowing the use of their property.
However, under the Natural Gas Act, even privately owned natural-gas companies may now use eminent domain to seize land for running pipelines. What is worse is that some natural-gas companies are exploiting the law to take land immediately. In some instances, they may even lapse on paying the families affected by the land grab. In this instance, homeowners may file a claim against the company regarding the abuse of eminent domain.
Even so, what happens when the organization wielding the power is the government? Forbes notes that at least one Philadelphia artist has put this to the test, but natural gas was not the reason. Instead, the city seized the deed to the artist’s studio with plans to bulldoze it. It would then be replaced by a parking lot and a grocery store.
The artist had owned his $2 million studio for almost a decade and enjoyed its strategic placement close to a university and some of the finest museums in Philadelphia. It was home to several of his artistic pieces and also provided rental income via Airbnb. It took almost two years of pressuring the city to see results. In the end, city plans showed that there was never a need to demolish the studio in the first place.
While the win is admirable, it is important to note that the artist occupied a unique position. As a world-renowned artist, he was able to afford the long court proceedings. He was also able to rally fans and other voices of note to his cause. Had the studio belonged to a less successful artist who did not have the means or connections to keep pushing, the results may have been different.