The answer to this question is simple: anything and everything provided that it pays just compensation. Except if limited by the enabling statute (and this limitation will usually only be applied to subordinate government agencies or subdivisions), the power to take is, as a practical matter, virtually unlimited. The government can take real property, personal property, trade fixtures, leasehold interests, contractual rights, franchises, and entire businesses.

A taking can be “partial;” for example, when the government takes some frontage to widen a road; or it can be “total” when the government takes the entire property. It can be permanent (i.e., the government owns it forever) or temporary (i.e., taking a portion of real estate to provide for construction, at the end of which the property is returned).

Posted in: Condemnation