Archive for the 'Eminent Domain' Category

June 28, 2006

Shutting down churches

Ned Ferguson, who I thought was MIA, notes that the .gov can shut down churches using eminent domain:

Churches are tax exempt, hence virtually any “use” except a church generates greater tax revenue for the government and therefore makes the property subject to seizure. See how easy that is?

He even has a sample.

June 24, 2006

Holy Crap

George Bush (yes, that one) issued an executive order that is anti-eminent domain:

It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.

It has a list of exclusions but it’s a start.

Wow. First thing he’s done right in years. Via the geek and carnaby.

Update: It has a clause that kind of makes it useless. One of the Volokh’s has the skinny. Via Jon.

June 23, 2006

Local Eminent Domain

Saw on the news yesterday at the barber shop that the city (my the city) of Maryville was planning on using eminent domain to take some land for a school. I’ve seen nothing on Al Gore’s Internets. Anyone see anything?

June 07, 2006

More Kelo Shame

In the aftermath of the Kelo ruling, it looks like the city council has voted to evict:

City officials voted Monday night to evict residents who refused to leave their riverfront homes, signaling that the end is near in an eminent domain dispute that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The City Council approved the action 5-2. The city attorney will now go to court to seek removal of the remaining two families and obtain the properties in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, a process that could take three months.

Another sad day for America and for property rights.

June 01, 2006

Eminent domain locally

After the rather tame law that supposedly addresses ED abuse, we find that Nashville’s hands are bloody when it comes to property rights:

… today’s Nashville City Paper has a report on a Nashville man whose property was indeed seized by government and handed over to a private developer, short-circuiting the property owner’s own attempt to redevelop the property himself. And the property wasn’t taken for a “public use” – a new school or a road, for example – which is the nomal reason for eminent domain.

May 30, 2006

The Kelo Backlash

Seems to be mostly immaterial:

Why has the Kelo backlash largely failed? Sandefur blames the political power of development interests who benefit from private-to-private condemnations and the lack of a strong philosophical commitment to property rights.

Via Fun Bob.

May 27, 2006

Tennessee’s New Eminent Domain Law

Over at Tennessee Ticket, they tell you why it’s not all that great.

It’s also here.

May 25, 2006

It’s a start

The TN eminent domain is on it’s way to the governor. Not the best bill, but it’s a start.

May 10, 2006

Quote of the day

Via AC, comes The Hammer of Truth:

The Tennessee Senate just unanamously passed an eminent domain bill. The measure is almost as effective in protecting the rights of property owners as a masturbating sterile man is effective in producing children.

Heh.

April 19, 2006

Eminent Domain in Tennessee

That Chattanoogan has a piece on some legislation in Tennessee to address ED concerns.

April 14, 2006

BB&T takes some heat

A while back, BB&T said it wouldn’t loan money for projectes taken via eminent domain. Now, a government agency is reacting:

The city’s urban renewal agency is looking to pull its $2.37 million out of BB&T because of the regional bank’s policy against loaning money for private projects that depend on eminent domain to obtain property.

Charleston Urban Renewal Authority members voted Wednesday to seek bids from other banks because they haven’t received answers from BB&T officials on the bank’s policy, said agency Director Pat Brown.

The authority has used its power to condemn property to help revitalize Charleston’s downtown. Once the property is condemned, it is sold to private developers.

April 10, 2006

Not clear on the concept of public use

In a bit of irony, it appears that actual public use isn’t the best use. In New Jersey, the Asbury Park Board of Education is getting kicked out of its offices (where they no doubt reside tax free) to make way for townhouses and condominiums. Heartless Libertarian notes:

When even government agencies aren’t safe from other government agencies rapacious appetites, it should scare everyone. This particular case should especially scare non-profit entities such as churches, who don’t pay any property taxes.

April 07, 2006

Tennessee’s Eminent Domain Law

Blake has a very detail post about the Tennessee legislature’s bill to curb eminent domain abuse. He says it won’t do much.

March 31, 2006

ED In Wisconsin

They may not have CCW yet, but they do have a bill aimed at curbing eminent domain abuse:

Wisconsin governments can’t seize private property that isn’t blighted and hand it over to companies for redevelopment under a bill Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law Thursday.

The Republican-authored measure comes in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision last June that held eminent domain laws allow the federal government to seize property for economic development.

The court ruled that cities may raze people’s homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development. The 5-4 decision gave local governments the power to seize private property in the name of increased tax revenue.

The Wisconsin bill prohibits governments – ranging from counties to state agencies to the University of Wisconsin System – from condemning property that isn’t blighted if the governments plan to convey or lease the property to a private entity.

Property can’t be considered blighted unless it has been abandoned or converted from a single dwelling into multiple units and the crime rate in or around the property is three times higher than in the rest of the city, according to the bill.

Good.

March 29, 2006

Local property rights blog

Check out Property Rights Knoxville, a blog focusing on eminent domain and other property issus in K-Town.

March 28, 2006

Eminent Domain Poll Numbers

Terry Frank notes some polling info related to eminent domain. Most striking:

Should local governments be able to seize homes for private economic development that will produce jobs and tax revenue?

Yes: 4.63%

No: 93.57%

Sounds like near total opposition to me.

March 24, 2006

Metropulse and ED

Terry Frank on the Metropulse’s recent love affair with the hideous practice of eminent domain:

Recently I asked of Bill Lyons, Director of Policy Development for the Mayor Haslam and the City of Knoxville, or if his Metro Pulse staffer wife, Gay, had written, influenced, or contributed to an editorial hit-piece in the Metro Pulse which slammed legislators who are working to protect private property rights.

It remains a possibility. But then again, maybe the editorial was written or influenced by Senior Pulse editor Barry Henderson. After all, Henderson’s wife used to hold the same position Bill Lyons does now and I could see him being sympathetic to the eminent domain argument.

Or then again, maybe the article was ordered, written, or influenced by Metro Pulse publisher and real estate developer Brian Conley.

Does Conley have an interest in any possible eminent domain seizures? I’m looking.

I’d be interested in knowing.

March 23, 2006

This land is your land

A good first step:

A bill that advanced this week would limit the power of cities and counties to seize private property, such as farmland, to develop industrial parks, but is less restrictive than other eminent domain legislation.

The bill would require local governments to certify the “public purpose and necessity” of seizing land. It is one of three dozen measures lawmakers have proposed on eminent domain following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to give a Connecticut city the authority to seize property for private development.

[snip]

Fowlkes’ bill specifies that public use “does not include private use or benefit or the indirect public benefits resulting from private economic development and private commercial enterprise.”

March 16, 2006

Irony in the name

Fox 19:

An 80-year-old woman has been ordered to move out of her Clifton house after a battle with the city of Cincinnati over eminent domain.

It’s for a Good Samaritan Hospital.

March 10, 2006

I like Texas

CBS Dallas:

Texans voting in the republican primary this week sent a clear message to state lawmakers. 94% supported a constitutional amendment preventing the government from taking private property through eminent domain for economic purposes.

Several projects in North Texas have infuriated private property owners who feel that the government wants their land and doesn’t have to be nice about it.

The upcoming Dallas Cowboys’ stadium is one of those projects. It has claimed many houses that stood in its way.

94%. I never thought you’d get 94% of people (even Republicans) to agree on anything. But the message is clear.

March 08, 2006

Another ED loss

Continuing the theme of all talk, no action comes news that New Mexico’s Governor vetoed an anti-eminent domain bill:

Governor Richardson has vetoed eminent domain legislation.

The measure was intended to prevent state and local governments from using their powers to take property for private development projects.

Richardson said yesterday a number of community officials opposed the measure.

He says the legislation would bring New Mexicans more harm than good.

Well, unless they own property.

News on the Eminent Domain Front

An anti-eminent domain bill was overwhelmingly defeated in Missouri:

The House overwhelmingly rejected an amendment that would have banned the use of eminent domain for taxpayer-funded developments by private developers.

By a vote of 129-26, the House rejected the amendment, which had been offered to a broader bill imposing restrictions on a program that provides tax breaks for private developers, called tax increment financing.

Such a bill may be useful in defeating land grabs like this one:

Lawsuits were filed Tuesday aimed at stopping an affluent suburban village from using the legal concept of eminent domain to take over a privately owned golf course.

“This proposed condemnation may be the most extreme abuse of eminent domain in the country,” said John Wilson, a Deepdale Golf Club member named as a plaintiff.

The village’s mayor said the federal and state lawsuit were a “pre-emptive strike” and no decision has been made on whether to proceed with a takeover of Deepdale, considered one of the finest golf courses in the country.

[snip]

But in North Hills _ a 2.8 square mile community of 1,800 residents on Long Island’s “gold coast,” where housing prices begin in the millions _ members of the Deepdale Club are rallying to save their 175-acre facility from being taken by village officials.

The federal suit questions the village’s right to seize the property through eminent domain; the state case challenges the village’s alleged abuse of zoning law to cut secret deals with private developers.

I tend to doubt a golf course where houses sell in the millions could be considered blighted under any reasonable measure.

February 28, 2006

Just Compensation

Unless you want to debate what exactly that just compensation is:

When Brian Adamek bought a couple hundred acres of rich black land soil from his father two years ago, he says he was planning for his future and the future of his wife and 3-month-old son.

But his dreams may be dashed if the city follows through with its plan to expand a nearby landfill by using its power to condemn his property for what city officials consider the greatest public good.

[snip]

City officials approached Adamek about his property a year and a half ago, offering $630 an acre for land he said he bought for $730 an acre from his father just a few months prior. Failure to accept that offer, Adamek said he was told, could mean he could get absolutely nothing for it should the city move forward with the authority enabled to them under the powers of eminent domain.

Public good is not public use. And the threat of taking the land and not paying seems a bit of an overreach.

February 27, 2006

Eminent Domain Laws in Tennessee

This looks promising:

It might be the most popular idea in the Tennessee General Assembly this session.

Lawmakers from both parties have introduced a flurry of bills to restrict government from using eminent domain to seize property and turn it over to private developers.

There have been 59 bills filed to limit the use of eminent domain – dozens each in the House and the Senate, submitted by both Democrats and Republicans.

Lawmakers say the issue is one of the first things their constituents want to talk about, and there’s broad support for the idea across parties and interest groups.

Good to see pressure put on them.

“In Tennessee, property rights almost rise to the level of being sacred,” said Rep. Joe Fowlkes, D-Cornersville, vice chairman of a joint committee studying eminent domain. “When people think that their private property might be taken from them and given to another person, it stirs them up.”

I don’t think it’s almost, I think it is.

February 24, 2006

Something to think about

Jed says:

It’s been a year since the Supreme Court ruled on Kelo, and her house is still there.

February 21, 2006

More Kelo fallout

Some good news:

In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government’s power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes.

The measures are in direct response to the United States Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the City of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for.

The reaction from the states was swift and heated. Within weeks of the court’s decision, Texas, Alabama and Delaware passed bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins limiting the right of local governments to seize property and turn it over to private developers. Since then, lawmakers in three dozen other states have proposed similar restrictions and more are on the way, according to experts who track the issue.

February 17, 2006

ED myths

You can’t make this stuff up:

Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson wants to dispel “innacuracies (sic) and stereotypes” about the use of eminent domain for economic development, a practice the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in last year’s notorious Kelo v. New London decision. Last fall Peterson told a Senate subcommittee that when the government threatens to condemn people’s property because it thinks someone else can make better use of it, “a majority of the time, most people agree to sell.”

Well, yeah, under the threat of a boot to the throat, most folks would. More:

“Cities use eminent domain most often as a negotiating tool with property owners,” explained Peterson, who was speaking for the National League of Cities. “Just having the tool available makes it possible to negotiate with landowners.” Sure it does—in the same way just having a gun available makes it possible for a bank robber to negotiate with a teller.

Ouch.

February 14, 2006

Unclear on the concept

“This would be the end of a dream for a lot of people,” Frenchtown resident Kim Vest told the St. Charles City Council Tuesday night.

And what, you may ask, is Kim Vest talking about. Well, she’s talking about a bill that would restrict abuse of eminent domain:

A group of Frenchtown residents say a proposal to restrict the city’s use of eminent domain would cripple their efforts to redevelop rundown areas of the historic neighborhood.

How about, say, someone’s dream to want to keep their land or home?

February 10, 2006

All promises, minimal action

After Kelo, there were quite a few local/state governments who had measures to reel in eminent domain abuse. Like these recent examples:

The Senate voted 23-to-five today a resolution asking voters to enact a law creating a new right to trial by jury on whether a condemnation by the state or a local government is for a public use and therefore allowed under state law.

The Senate also approved a bill to declare that a projected increase in tax revenue or other economic benefit doesn’t qualify as a public use for which eminent domain can be used.

and:

Governor Sonny Perdue said, “The government’s awesome power of eminent domain should be used sparingly, and never abused for private profit.”

The Governor also proposed a constitutional amendment rhat (sic) would prohibit the use of eminent domain for economic development or to boost tax revenue. The changes in law will likely be too late, however, to block Phoebe from seizing the 93 year old woman’s house.

But to date, I really know of no place where such a law has passed. Anyone?

February 07, 2006

Kelo Compromise

The mayor has proposed one:

Under a plan presented to the City Council Monday night, four people whose homes were seized for a private development would be allowed to stay. The city would own their properties and the residents would have to pay the city to live there.

Doesn’t this sort of prove that the home owners and the development can, in fact, each get what they want? And, of course, the home owners already pay the city to live there through property taxes. Looks to me like they know they did wrong and are trying to make up for it while saving a bit of face and still exerting unnecessary power.

Let the homeowners stay. And let them keep their homes.