States have long history of taking land for economic reasons

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In June, the U.S. Supreme Court raised the public consciousness on eminent domain when it permitted New London, Conn., officials to take a group of older homes along the city's waterfront for a private developer who plans to build offices, a hotel and convention center. But there is a long history of state governments assuming control of land for economic benefits. In 1867, New Hampshire's Supreme Court upheld the state's right to take private land for dams to power the mills that were the economic engines of the time.

"Nature has denied to us the fertile soil and genial climate of other lands, but by way of compensation has endowed us with unrivaled opportunities of turning our streams of water to practical account," the court said.

The court reasoned the overriding public benefits justifying the takings were the jobs provided by the mills and the wages spent on commodities produced in New Hampshire.

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