(a) The right of eminent domain is the right of this state, through its regular organization, to reassert, either temporarily or permanently, its dominion over any portion of the soil of this state on account of public exigency and for the public good. Thus, in time of war or insurrection the proper authorities may possess and hold any part of the territory of this state for the common safety. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, except as provided in Code Section 22-1-15 , neither this state nor any political subdivision thereof nor any other condemning authority shall use eminent domain unless it is for public use. Public use is a matter of law to be determined by the court and the condemnor bears the burden of proof.
(b) Except as provided in Code Section 22-1-15 , no condemnation shall be converted to any use other than a public use for 20 years from the initial condemnation.
(c)(1) Except as provided in Code Section 22-1-15 , if property acquired through the power of eminent domain from an owner fails to be put to a public use within five years, the former property owner may apply to the condemnor or its successor or assign for reconveyance or quitclaim of the property to the former property owner or for additional compensation for such property. For purposes of this subsection, property shall be considered to have been put to a public use at the point in time when substantial good faith effort has been expended on a project to put the property to public use, notwithstanding the fact that the project may not have been completed. The application shall be in writing, and the condemnor or its successor or assign shall act on the application within 60 days by:
(A) Executing a reconveyance or quitclaim of the property upon receipt of compensation not to exceed the amount of the compensation paid by the condemnor at the time of acquisition; or
(B) Paying additional compensation to the former owner of the property, such compensation to be calculated by subtracting the price paid by the condemnor for the property at the time of acquisition from the fair market value of the property at the time the application is filed.
(2) If the condemnor fails to take either action within 60 days, the former property owner may, within the next 90 days following, initiate an action in the superior court in the county in which the property is located to reacquire the property or receive additional compensation.
(3) The condemnor shall provide notice to each former owner of the property prior to acquisition if the condemnor fails to put such property to a public use within five years. The condemnee shall have one year from the date notice is received to bring an application under this subsection.
(d) When property is acquired from more than one owner for the same public use and reconveyance or additional compensation to a single owner is impracticable, any party to the original condemnation or each person with a legal claim in such condemnation may file an action in the superior court in the county in which the property is located for an equitable resolution.
(e) This Code section shall not apply to condemnations subject to Code Section 22-3-162 or Title 32.
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