Archive for the 'Eminent Domain' Category

February 07, 2006

But if it’s for the good of the community

Right ruling, odd reasoning:

A city agency violated the separation of church and state when it seized a woman’s home to help a religious group build a private school in a blighted Philadelphia neighborhood, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

Yeah, forget about all that pesky fifth amendment stuff.

February 06, 2006

More Kelo fallout

ABC reports that 40 states and Congress are looking at eminent domain in a post Kelo world:

Echoes of the debate are happening across the country, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision brought new attention to governments’ ability to seize property through the tool of eminent domain. Some 40 states are re-examining their laws with action in Congress, too after the court’s unpopular ruling.

Here’s hoping something gets done.

January 26, 2006

This is interesting.

Maybe there is hope in the KELO mess. I hope this spreads to other businesses.

January 25, 2006

Good news on the eminent domain front

BB&T, a bank that operates locally, says:

BB&T Corporation today said it will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.

The commercial lending policy change comes in the wake of Kelo v. City of New London, a controversial Supreme Court decision in June that said governments can seize personal property to make room for private development projects.

The court’s ruling cleared the way for an expansion of eminent domain authority historically used primarily for utilities, rights of way and other public facilities.

“The idea that a citizen’s property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it’s just plain wrong,” said BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison.

“One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own. As an institution dedicated to helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security, we won’t help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership.”

Reward good behavior. Seriously. I may just have to switch my banking needs to BB&T. That is awesome. Hats off to them.

And, in Rhode Island:

In a move supported by Gov. Don Carcieri, the state Economic Development Corporation will discontinue using eminent domain to take people’s property and give them to private developers for economic development.

The policy change came in a vote by the EDC’s board on Monday.

“We’re trying to send a clear message that when it’s owner-occupied we’re respecting those rights,” said Carcieri, who’s chairman of the EDC. He asked the agency last year to revise its eminent domain policy that would protect Rhode Islanders’ homes from eminent domain condemnations for office buildings, hotels and other private uses. Carcieri said earlier this month that he plans to introduce legislation to prevent the use of eminent domain for economic development statewide.

January 20, 2006

Sorry, we need money

The City of Knoxville wants to annex the Disc Exchange:

For the past 16 years or so, the city has tried to annex the property but store owner Alan Miller has been fighting it.

Miller, who also has the Chapman Highway Disc Exchange in the city, says there’s no difference in the services he receives, such as water, sewer and police and fire protection.

Miller doesn’t think he should pay more taxes for the same level of service. That’s why he’s been fighting the annexation in court.

It’s not about services, it’s about tax dollars.

Outrageous Eminent Domain Abuse

Rhymes with Right, on a case where just compensation of 105 acres taken via eminent domain was $1, reports:

the judge allowed no testimony on the value of the land — and then awarded an absurdly low value because there was no evidence in support of the land’s value. Never mind that we know that the land was considered to be worth at least $1.9 million by the special commission. And she added insult to injury by ordering the victim of her obscene ruling to pay back all money he received with interest, plus legal fees to the publicly-owned Port — which means he is paying the Port for the privilege of having his land stolen.

Abysmal. Dan has more. I’m not one to generally advocate violence. But in this case, I’d make an exception. Judge, tar, feathers, some assembly required.

January 12, 2006

One man’s deterioration

Chris highlights what is sure to be the next big test case for post-Kelo eminent domain proceedings:

Note here that from the description, it sounds like there may not be much actual “blight”. Instead, it seems “deteriorating” here actually means that a progressive number of households were simply swayed to sell-out to the developer.

It’s not actually blighted but it will be. Just like everything will someday be historic (unless you tear it down and rebuild regularly), eventually everything deteriorates. Seems like they may grease the wheels so that everything can be taken. For your own good, of course. And I’m not certain that it’s deteriorated just because some people have sold out.

January 09, 2006

No kidding

From the Department of Duh:

Americans remain strongly committed to protecting private property from the possibility of unjust seizure, according to the results of a nationwide survey released today by the American Farm Bureau Federation during the organization’s annual convention.

The poll shows, regardless of geographical, partisan and other demographic differences, Americans are unified nearly 2-to-1 against government use of eminent domain to take private property, except in limited circumstances such as when the public at large would clearly benefit from a new road, electric utility or similar project.

Likewise, 83 percent of Americans oppose the use of eminent domain to further private development initiatives. Seizure for private development was the issue at the heart of the Kelo v. New London, Conn., case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. That case made national headlines when the high court ruled that property could be taken from one landowner to advance the economic development efforts of another private entity.

It’s a good thing so many oppose it. Maybe politicos and talking heads will pay attention.

December 22, 2005


Monopoly: Eminent Domain Special Edition! That’s funny.

December 12, 2005

Eminent Domain Humor


December 07, 2005

Kelo Backlash

Positive Liberty’s Timothy Sandefur notes that the backlash of Kelo hasn’t accomplished much so far:

In the months after the Kelo decision was announced there was much talk of a “backlash” in the states. Since state law can provide greater protections to people than federal law does, people hoped to change state law to protect themselves from eminent domain abuse. But, as I argue in a forthcoming paper (which will be posted on SSRN shortly), the backlash so far has accomplished little.

He has a lot more.

November 23, 2005

Local Eminent Domain Issue

In Knoxville, Councilman Steve Hall proposed a charter amendment that would have required a seven-vote majority from the nine-member board to approve any and all condemnations by the city. The measure was defeated by a vote of 1-8:

Councilman Steve Hall, the measure’s sole sponsor, had argued that city agencies that would use such power, namely Knoxville’s Community Development Corp., are not elected bodies and do not answer directly to voters.

He also cited the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the case of Kelo v. New London, Conn., which upheld that city’s use of eminent domain for the purpose of economic development.

“I can perceive that municipalities all over the country will start using eminent domain more frequently for the purpose of economic development,” said Hall, the only member to vote in favor of the change. “All we’re doing is giving the citizens of Knoxville the opportunity to decide how they want to be governed.”

Good for Steve Hall. Bad for Knoxvillians.

November 21, 2005

Kelo, the latest

No bulldozers, no evictions. The residents are still there. And quite confident they’ll stay:

Even though the holdouts lost their case, and the development that would displace them finally seems free to go forward, construction has not begun, and some elements of the project have been effectively paralyzed since the court ruling prompted a political outcry.

“I felt relaxed enough to get my checkbook out and put the new roof on,” said Mr. Von Winkle, who owns three buildings with a total of 12 occupied apartments in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood by the Thames River, where the city was sued for claiming 15 properties through eminent domain.

Ms. Kelo, also among the handful of holdouts, said, “We still have hope that we’ll get to keep our homes.”

Good. I think the pressure from this hideous ruling may have done more to energize the issue than a good ruling would have. I’d still have preferred the latter. But it’s something.

November 11, 2005

Kelo, what have ye wrought

BizzyBlog has a run down of recent events. Most recently:

After a campaign focusing on rising taxes and the eminent domain controversy, New London voters have sliced the Democrats’ City Council majority from three to one.

The upstart One New London Party won two council seats, losing a third seat by only 19 votes. The new seven-member council will consist of four Democrats, one Republican, and two aldermen from One New London.

November 04, 2005

Not great but a start

The AP:

Charging that the Supreme Court undermined one of the pillars of American society, the House took up legislation Thursday to block court-sanctioned seizings of people’s homes for use by private developers.

The bill, headed toward easy passage with bipartisan support, would withhold federal funds from state and local governments that use powers of eminent domain to force homeowners to give up their property for commercial uses.

I wonder if that would include pork?

October 25, 2005

Messing with Texas


Gov. Rick Perry ceremonially signed a new property rights law Monday in Waco, saying Texas will protect homeowners from losing land to private economic development projects.

The law, which the Legislature passed in August in response to a controversial June U.S. Supreme Court decision, restricts a governmental body’s power of eminent domain to seize private property.

“We believe government should not encroach upon the private property rights unless there is an eminent public need,” Perry said. “Eminent domain for public use is a necessary power. Eminent domain for private use is a great threat.”

Saying he and the Legislature attempted “to close a door the Supreme Court jarred open,” Perry received a standing ovation from more than 60 people at the Waco Association of Realtors office, which supported the legislation.

October 20, 2005

Kelo update

The Kelo story gets a bit more interesting:

The city council has voted to sever ties with the quasi-public development authority at the center of a national debate over eminent domain powers.

The council voted 6-0 Monday night to revoke the designation of the New London Development Corp. as the city’s “implementing agency” for its Fort Trumbull development. The agency has guided the $73 million state-funded project since its inception in 1998.

As for why, it seems the development corporation acted to evict some residents after the state asked them to hold off while they contemplate changes to the law. That last bit is some good news.

October 07, 2005

Take my land for the ballgame

Wow. It’s like local governments have no fear of taking property:

The District of Columbia plans to use eminent domain to acquire land for the Washington Nationals ballpark.

The Washington Times reports 10 of the 23 landowners affected have not responded to purchase offers.

The city notified landowners in April they must be off the 21-acre site by Dec. 31. Construction of a new stadium is scheduled to begin in March with completion expected by the beginning of the 2008 baseball season.

October 06, 2005

More Kelo Fallout

Ravenwood notes a particularly fishy case in New Jersey:

Segal said he met with Cryan, who is head of the township’s Democratic Party, and other local officials “scores of times” over the past five years to discuss the project. He claims the talks turned adversarial after he rejected proposals to work with various developers they proposed.

On May 24, the five-member township committee voted unanimously to authorize the municipality to seize Segal’s land through eminent domain and name its own developer.

“They want to steal my land,” Segal said. “What right do they have when I intend to do the exact same thing they want to do with my property?”

So, eminent domain is now being abused to developer shop.

John Cole rounds up other post-Kelo cases, including confiscation to build a Dallas Cowboy Stadium. How is that public use? He also has some good news from other states, similar to my list here.

October 05, 2005

I was Kelo bloggin’ before Kelo bloggin’ was cool

A few interesting eminent domain issues since the Kelo decision:

First, heh.

Bubba (sorry, but R. Neal doesn’t quite roll off the keyboard yet) details some of TVA’s eminent domain dealings past and present:

As part of the great Rural Electrification of the 1930s under FDR, the Tennessee Valley Authority was founded to control flooding, generate power, and improve the lives and welfare of the people in the valley.

Now a bureaucratic behemoth and a government within a government with its own police force and no elected officials, TVA stomps around the valley doing pretty much whatever it wants for the benefit of TVA and a few rich people.

In 1964, TVA acquired – by eminent domain – 179 miles of shoreline to create the 10,370 acre Nickajack Lake near Chattanooga in the scenic Tennessee River Gorge, the “Grand Canyon of Tennessee.” As with all TVA reservoir projects, people were removed from their homes and farms, by force if necessary, and paid a token sum for their land and their troubles.

In the latest example of TVA hubris, land taken from 82 families by eminent domain for Nickajack Lake was “auctioned” to a real estate developer for a $450 million upscale lakefront gated community development:

One problem is only one bidder was at the auction.

And in Florida:

Officials of a poor, predominantly black Florida town plan to relocate about 6,000 residents to make room for a billion-dollar yachting and housing complex.

The coastal community of Rivera Beach in Palm Beach County may use eminent domain, if necessary, to claim 400 acres of land for the project, The Washington Times reported Monday.

“This is a community that’s in dire need of jobs, which has a median income of less than $19,000 a year,” Mayor Michael Brown said. “If we don’t use this power, cities will die.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the use of eminent domain for economic purposes, ruling against a group of New London, Conn., homeowners fighting a proposed corporate development.

The City Council last week chose a New Jersey-based developer, Viking Inlet Harbor Properties LLC, to oversee the project, which is expected to displace 2,000 houses.

So, they are displacing (a nice term for bought or booted out) 2000 folks for a yacht club.

Pun of the day goes to Goldstein with: Kelo-ing me softly.

Tar and feathers come to mind.

September 16, 2005

Speaking of Eminent Domain

This is pretty lame:

Despite promises to abide by a moratorium on eminent domain takings, the city agency in charge of development has sent notices to residents in Fort Trumbull ordering them to leave by the beginning of December.

And it gets better:

According to a copy of the eviction notice obtained by the Journal Inquirer, residents are being required not only to leave by Dec. 8 at the latest, but also to pay $600 a month to the NLDC in the interim.

Nothing some tar and feathers wouldn’t stop.

Well, here’s a new one

Church wants immigrant’s property via ‘eminent domain’

Surely, that would annoy the staunchest of ED supporters?

September 12, 2005

Support Eminent Domain, get recalled

I dig it:

One of St. Louis’ most colorful political careers could come to an end later this month.

St. Louis Alderman Thomas E. Bauer is facing a recall effort. Voters will decide whether to keep Bauer on September 20th.

Bauer’s critics have attacked him for his support of a plan to force several property owners in the Dogtown neighborhood to make way for a gas station and convenience store. Residents say they feel betrayed by Bauer and that the booming growth of the area is changing its inner-city charm.

Good. Where do I contribute?

August 23, 2005

More ED good news

In response to this post, a couple of people have added a few more bits of good news. For example, one commentator says Alabama passed legislation that specifically prohibited the new and expanded “public purposes” they created in Kelo.

And Knox County Law Director Mike Moyers writes (say, Knox County government types are reading? – spooky):

Just thought you would like to know that in Knox County, Tennessee we have passed an ordinance that would require a supermajority (2/3) of the County Commission to approve the use of eminent domain where the intent and effect is to deprive any private person, corporation or entity of real property and transfer that property to any other private person, corporation or entity.

That may not sound like much, but the Commission recently (but before the Kelo controversy) was unable to agree to condemn a small strip of land from a cattle stockyard to serve as an access for a local county-owned refuse and recycling center. Requiring a two-thirds majority for a Kelo-style condemnation effectively removes such a condemnation from the realm of possibility, unless the need and public desire for such is absolutely overwhelming.

It doesn’t go far enough in that such takings should be outright banned but it is a start. So, hats off to Knox County.

Update: Mr. Moyers emailed me a copy of the ordinance, which states:

SECTION 1: No exercise of the power of eminent domain by Knox County which has the intent and effect of transferring ownership of any interest in real property from any private individual, entity or corporation to any other private individual, entity or corporation shall be undertaken unless such exercise of the eminent domain power is first approved by a minimum two thirds majority vote of the membership of the Knox County Commission.

SECTION 2: Exercise of the eminent domain power for acquisition of property which does not meet the conditions set forth in Section 1 of this Ordinance may be authorized by vote of a simple majority of the membership of the County Commission, provided that if any property so acquired is proposed to be sold to any private individual, entity or corporation other than the original owner within three years of said property’s acquisition, authorization of such sale shall require approval by a two-thirds majority of the County Commission.

SECTION 3: Exercise of the eminent domain power of Knox County solely for the purpose of building, expanding or improving Knox County public roads shall be deemed to have been approved and authorized by the Knox County Commission when the Commission appropriates such funds as are necessary for such road construction, expansion or improvement or takes such other action as evidences the Commission’s approval of such road construction, expansion or improvement.

SECTION 4: Use of the county’s eminent domain powers for the purpose of development of industrial parks pursuant to the Tennessee Industrial Park Act, TCA §13-16-201, et seq., shall require the approval of a simple majority of the membership of the Knox County Commission

August 19, 2005

You may have noticed

or maybe not. I’ve not done a lot of Eminent Domain blogging since the SCOTUS Kelo ruling. That’s mostly because it depresses me at this point. However, there is some good news. It is that battling eminent domain abuse is popping up all over:

In Connecticut:

The Zoning Commission and Board of Selectmen are asking the public to support the proposed ordinance, which requires that property to be taken by eminent domain meet one of the following criteria:

The property is to be owned by the town or an agency of the town, and is to be used or set aside for one or more public facilities, such as, but not limited to, streets, bridges, parkways, sidewalks, rights of way, or other public ways, parks, playgrounds, schools, or public sewer, water or waste disposal or transfer facilities.

The property is to be owned by the town and set aside for permanent open space or drainage or erosion control facilities.

The property poses a danger to public health or safety as a result of physical deterioration, pollution or contamination, and is to be taken by the town for the purpose of remediating such conditions or minimizing danger to the public.

In Missouri:

The governor created the Eminent Domain Task Force after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that government can use eminent domain for economic development. Blunt described the decision at the time as a “terrible ruling.”

In Texas:

Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) praised a measure to restrict government’s power of eminent domain, which won legislative approval and is now headed to the desk of Gov. Rick Perry.

The House version of the Senate bill, joint authored by Kolkhorst with Rep. Beverly Wooley (R-Houston) and Rep. Frank Corte (R-San Antonio), included an amendment by Kolkhorst which added additional limits to state government’s power of eminent domain, including tighter restrictions over state transportation projects in relation to ancillary facilities.

The legislation was passed in order to bar government from seizing land strictly for commercial purposes. Perry, who added the eminent domain issue to the agenda of the special session on school finance, has the power to sign or veto legislation, or to allow it to become law without his signature.

In New Jersey (yes, that New Jersey):

The Borough Council will likely vote tonight to ask residents in November whether to impose stricter limits on the use of eminent domain than allowed by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Mayor Steve Lonegan proposed the ballot question in response to the top court’s June ruling that allows New London, Conn., to raze homes for private development because it would provide an economic benefit to the town.

In New York (yes, that New York):

A City Council member of Brooklyn, Letitia James, introduced legislation yesterday that would bar city funds from going toward projects that use eminent domain to transfer property from one private landowner to another.

In California (ayup):

State lawmakers launched an effort Wednesday to limit the ability of local government to take private property for private developers’ benefit.

Lawmakers have proposed several bills to try to limit the ability of governments to take property in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding that ability in a Connecticut case.


In its earliest form, HB 1063 would have barred local and state entities from condemning private property and then turning it over to private developers for commercial use.

In New Hampshire:

Two panels — one in the House and one in the Senate — are grappling with the issue of eminent domain in the wake of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the taking of private land for private development.

In Wisconsin:

In Madison, state Rep. Jeffrey Wood (R-Chippewa Falls) and state Sen. David Zien (R-Eau Claire) are drafting a bill to limit the use of eminent domain.

North Dakota:

City commissioners have voted unanimously to consider an ordinance that would limit the city’s power to seize private property for economic development.

North Carolina:

The Board of Aldermen joined a growing number of government bodies Tuesday in passing a resolution opposing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on eminent domain and saying the town will not employ eminent domain outside of a true “public use” context.


Johnson City Commissioner Phil Roe says the Supreme Court’s ruling scares him to death, especially since it only takes three votes to condemn a home here.

“I want to get that power taken away from us as fast as they can do it,” Roe said.

West Virginia:

Capehart said Republican leaders in the state Legislature are currently working on legislation to curb eminent domain powers and that “very soon” they will have a bill or constitutional amendment to present to the Legislature. He also said that this initial petition was part of a statewide petition drive by the West Virginia Republican Party, and that petition forms could be found on the party Web site.


State lawmakers to take up the issue this fall

Farm groups and other property rights advocates are pushing lawmakers to protect residents from local governments that want to seize land in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this summer.

We have been heard!

August 16, 2005

Oh lord

You know, there are very few instances that make me think someone should be taken out to the woodshed and have the absolute Hell beaten out of them. However, this is one:

“It’s a new definition of chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought confiscation.”

Fight them and they will make you pay. I hope Bob Krumm is right:

Kelo v. New London is about to become the new Roe v. Wade—a Supreme Court decision that ignites a firestorm of protest. Only with Kelo, there’s no one running to defend the land-grabbing decision.

August 15, 2005

Local action on Kelo

Rep. Campfield has a piece in the local newspaper regarding protections from eminent domain abuse.

August 11, 2005

What’s the delay people?

In 2001 on September 11th there was a horrific attack on our country. It took the legislature a short 43 days to pass the patriot act. A bill that is complex in it’s abilities to remove basic rights.

In 2005 on June 21st the Supreme jerks court decided that our rights to property was less important then a Wal-Mart. Politicians stood in unison and declared that they would pass laws to protect our homes. In the resulting 51 days exactly one state, Alabama, has passed a bill protecting the property rights of their citizens.

Besides Alabama, legislation to ban or restrict the use of eminent domain for private development has been introduced in 16 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas.

Legislators have announced plans to introduce eminent-domain bills in seven more states: Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and lawmakers in Colorado, Georgia and Virginia plan to act on previously introduced bills.

I get the feeling we are being left at the alter here. They promise a lot but have no carry through. Maybe they are trying to wait us out. How hard is it to pass a law that almost all politicians have come out in support of and that most people support?

Have you called your Tennessee representative and asked why a bill has not been passed? Here are the needed links to contact your representative in the state government.
Tennessee House
Tennessee Senate
Do not email. Call them. Let their office hear your voice.

If you do not contact them now, then you have no right to complain when they come for your house later. It’s that simple.

Update: This quote says a lot

Republican Gov. Bob Riley signed a bill that was passed unanimously by a special session of the Alabama Legislature

They called a special session to deal with this. why isn’t our politicians doing the same?

Update 2: Seems that some are calling for a special session of sorts.

It took uncommon courage and compassion for state Sen. Doug Jackson to call for a special legislative session on TennCare.

Stopping the Tenncare cuts will buy more votes then the property rights bill I guess.

July 31, 2005

Homeless in New Hampshire – Part two

In what is likely to become a regular act of social resistance another Supreme Court Judge is going to lose some land, if the Libertarian party gets it’s way.

PLAINFIELD, N.H. (AP) – Libertarians upset about a Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain have proposed seizing Justice Stephen G. Breyer’s vacation home and turning it into a park, echoing efforts aimed at another justice who lives in the state.
The state’s Libertarian Party is trying to collect enough signatures to go before the town next spring to ask to use Breyer’s 167-acre property for a “Constitution Park” with stone monuments to commemorate the U.S. and New Hampshire constitutions.

Makes a man almost feel sorry for the modern plight of the soon to be homeless.

July 28, 2005

Dean lies about eminent domain

And it’s a pretty bad one too:

“The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is ‘okay’ to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is,” Dean said, not mentioning that until he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court this week, Bush had not appointed anyone to the high court.

Dean’s reference to the “right-wing” court was also erroneous. The four justices who dissented in the Kelo vs. New London case included the three most conservative members of the court – Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the fourth dissenter.

The court’s liberal coalition of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer combined with Justice Anthony Kennedy to form the majority opinion, allowing the city of New London, Conn., to use eminent domain to seize private properties for commercial development.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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