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September 29th, 2003

Eminent Domain

Last night, 60 Minutes featured a story on “eminent domain,” a law that normally allows government to claim private property (for a price) from its owner in order to build roads, schools, courthouses, etc. Actually, the wording is that whatever is being built is better for the “public good.”

The problem with that wording is that now local governments are claiming the rights to private property in order to demolish it and sell the space to a builder to build more expensive private property. Why? Because then the town would get more in property taxes and that’s considered “public good.” Unfortunately, it leaves families out in the cold.

Take a look at this story about a retired couple in Lakeland, Ohio who has lived in their house for over 30 years. They (and over 50 of their neighbors) are asked to give up their property so that high-price condos and a shopping center can be built in their place.

In order for “public good” to be proven, these areas have to be considered “blighted.” But guess who defines what “blighted” means? The town. So, they’ve defined a blighted house as one that doesn’t contain an attached two-car garage or central air or is a plot of land less than 5000 sq. feet. Mighty convenient for the town since most of these houses were built 75 or more years ago and don’t need central air because of the cool Lake Erie breeze that’s always blowing. Interestingly, 90% of the houses in Lakeland would be considered blighted, including the mayor’s and every one of the city council members’.

Apparently, this is a rampant problem, too, with The New York Times enacting the “eminent domain” law for their new space and an Ace Hardware store owner going to the local government to try and force out a local brake repair business just because he wants the location.

Amazing. And scary.

Posted in Politics

FROM: Chris [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday September 29, 2003 -- 9:40:00 am
Yep. Can't let private property rights get in the way of a new WalMart. By the way - private busineeses can't enact the eminant domain law. They need local government to sellout their responsibilites, which they are unfortunately all too willing to do.

Related issue...shouldn't we be getting close to a saturation point on retail space? How many WalMarts do we need in this county?

FROM: Greg
DATE: Monday September 29, 2003 -- 9:47:59 am
I just passed by what once was a house that's been there since before I was born. It fits the area it's in very nicely and was always maintained well. It's gone now, soon to replace it, a modern-looking mini strip mall that will look very out of place with the buildings that have been there for 50+ years. I'm thinking that my wonderful town enacted the "eminent domain" clause to get what they want. It makes me glad that there's just about a 0% chance that my house will be taken down for the sake of commercial development.

FROM: Robert [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday September 29, 2003 -- 9:09:17 pm
Bullshit talks.

Money walks all over honest people.

FROM: Lois T. Walery
DATE: Friday March 26, 2004 -- 11:43:49 am
Thanks for the information. I have wooded property that a developer wants to run a sewer line through. I don't want him to cut a 40ft. wide, 1000 ft. area to do this. He said he will go to the county and pursue condemnation-eminent Domain. We have 35 acres and 5 cottages, well kept and quiet and would like it to stay this way. It looks like we may not have a choice. This is in GA.

FROM: Nicole Mellott
DATE: Thursday January 13, 2005 -- 7:54:01 pm
my parents live in cheyenne wyo, they live on a lot that the county library wants to put there new library on, they voted in that it would go in the adjacent lot across the street, and where my parents are would be a parking lot, so they couldnt do eminant domain, now they have changed what was voted for and said they want the library where the parking lot was suppose to be, and the parking lot across the street, just to try and get eminant domain, if anyone knows if there is any fight to this let me know.

in cheyenne wyoming

FROM: Alice Smith
DATE: Saturday April 9, 2005 -- 4:15:45 pm
Let this be a warning as well... The city of Rancho Cucamonga in California has a common practice of taking receivership or threatening receiversip to force you to sell your property or to condem to remove the older properties in the neighborhood just for asthetics due to complaining developers. Dont worry there is a place set aside for people like this, created by the grand developer the Lord. People need to speak up and help change the laws and take the power fron the greedy hands of some individuals.

FROM: Jill Casey
DATE: Thursday June 30, 2005 -- 11:37:38 am
It just doesn't seem fair that you purchase a piece of property and think you own it and find out you really don't have any rights at all. I live in Oakley California where a builder wants to use part of my land to put a raod in. He doesn't want to give me crap for it but if I don't take what he is offering he will end up with it anyway. He has plenty of room to move his road over and not use my land but doesn't want to lose a house of his own to do so. I just doesn't seem right.

FROM: Matthew
DATE: Sunday December 18, 2005 -- 12:53:18 am
It seems like in recent history we have heard nothing but bad things about the eminant domain law. What I dont understand is why embattled communities dont use these laws against corporations that are selling out the local resources. In the Northwest we hear constantly about how major corporations are selling raw wood products to china. Seems to me that those communities affected could enact this law to save entire towns. Dont you think that if the other guys are gonna play dirty that its time for the rest of us to step up to the plate and give a little of what we are getting?

DATE: Sunday December 18, 2005 -- 12:45:56 pm

FROM: Heather
DATE: Sunday January 29, 2006 -- 8:47:26 am
I have only recently heard of eminent domain and the issues that it causing. I am floored that our government has been allowed to do this. I am currently taking a communications class in college. One of our class assignments is to do an informative speech on something that is of interest to us and is interesting to the audience. I have decided to do my speech on the issues of eminent domain. I have found several articles about this topic, but I was wondering if there was an article or something I could access that shows how many people have been pushed out of their homes because of eminent domain? My heart goes out to all of these people and I believe that the only way that this can be prevented in the future (at least as far as economic development and tax base reasons go) is to inform people like myself, who have not been touched by eminent domain.

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Sunday January 29, 2006 -- 4:17:34 pm
In Oakland, CA they used this to evict a car repair shop.

A local BBQ shop, though, got a good deal and some money towards relocating into a bigger spot across the street. So it can work out. But in general it really sucks.

FROM: Marty Katz
DATE: Thursday March 16, 2006 -- 10:30:27 am
It seems to me that the Bush types will be with us forever. Eminent Domain sucks. What are the chances of having such a law changed or repealed?
Tis law smacks of 1936 Nazi Germany! Think of the shock and rage caused by such a greedy nasty law. Think of the inconvenience caused to people who are in the late years in life to have to be uprooted, when all their thoughts should be of being comfortable and happy in their retirement. All of these horrors are for what? So that some billion dollar corporation can make more money. It stinks and all the people causing this know that it stinks.

Wayne September 30, 2006, 10:15 am

Eminent Domain.I am watching this action occur in the Northwest. It is being used to eliminate mobile home parks (those which are not all ready being sold out from under residents)in the Seattle/ Everett area, as well as other properties. Persons who had invested years ago as a means of retirement are being robbed of the oppurtunity to do so. Governments at all levels are abusing the power we have given them. At least the politicians of a few years ago gave to the community, although I believe they too had a system of payoffs working. It is a very sad day indeed, when our flag, constitution, and civil rights are trampled upon by the very people who are supposed to defend it. CEOs’ of large companies who would do illegal deeds, are at last going to jail for their crimes. Politicians? They just get re-elected.

LAJohnson January 24, 2007, 9:46 pm

Hey Marty,

Eminent Domain is not a law, it is a phrase that was invented by politicians in order to manipulate the Constitution and I qoute 14th ammendment section 1: “Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.” Eminent Domain is a term used to start due process. Originally, It was used in reference to road improvements for the greater good of the general public. Then graduated as more politicians decided it could be used to increase tax basis. Typically it goes unchallanged above the local courts until recently Kelo vs. New London, CT. What is truely amazing is when the supreme court sided with Pfizer and made the Kelos’ move out of there beuatiful home on the river so Pfizer could build a new manufacturing firm on the river. What do you think would be more appealling to look at? The most appalling part is the supreme court whom is sworn to uphold the constitution allowed this to happen. And they said

Ivan Newman May 19, 2007, 8:08 pm

Property rights are human rights. Proposition 90 for state of California was very badly written. Most voters voted for proposition 90 thinking it would stop govenment taking properties by Eminent Domain.

What is this then?

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