Eminent domain increase for school land proposed

School districts’ power of eminent domain would be expanded by a bill heard by the Judiciary Committee March 11.

Introduced by Omaha Sen. Bob Krist, LB362 would authorize school districts exercising eminent domain to increase from 50 acres to 100 acres the amount of land they could obtain for school sites. Public parks and county fairgrounds would be exempt from acquisition.

Because of neighboring developments, Krist said, urban schools often do not have room to expand. The bill would allow schools to reserve larger sites to anticipate growth, he said.

“Modern schools simply need more space than they used to,” Krist said.

John Lindsay, lobbyist for Omaha Public Schools, testified in support of the bill, saying the amount of land that schools may acquire through eminent domain has not changed since 1973. Field space for boys’ and girls sports, parking space and changing zoning codes all contribute to schools’ increasing need for land, he said.

There was no opposing testimony and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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