OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that economic development alone cannot be construed as a "public purpose" for the seizure of property by public entities.
The court ruled Tuesday that the seizure of landowners' private property for the purpose of acquiring right-of-way easements for water pipelines was unlawful.
Four different Muskogee County cases were consolidated under the ruling.
A district court had upheld arguments by officials that the economic development of Muskogee County constituted a valid public purpose to support the exercise of eminent domain.
Landowners appealed and won a favorable ruling in the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals.
The Supreme Court essentially agreed with the appeals court decision, but vacated that court's order, saying it wanted to settle the issue at the high court level.