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GoReds
06-23-2005, 11:56 AM
Supreme Court ruling says that the government can take your house, even if the reason they are taking it is to pass it on for private development. :thumbdown

Not sure the founders would consider that within the 5th amendment...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050623/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_seizing_property

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
1 minute ago



WASHINGTON - A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights.

The 5-4 ruling assailed by dissenting Justice Sanday Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America was a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. States are within their rights to pass additional laws restricting condemnations if residents are overly burdened, he said.

"The city has carefully formulated an economic development that it believes will provide appreciable benefits to the community, including but by no means limited to new jobs and increased tax revenue," Stevens wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

"It is not for the courts to oversee the choice of the boundary line nor to sit in review on the size of a particular project area," he said.

O'Connor, who has often been a key swing vote at the court, issued a stinging dissent, arguing that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.

"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Connecticut residents involved in the lawsuit expressed dismay and pledged to keep fighting.

"It's a little shocking to believe you can lose your home in this country," said resident Bill Von Winkle, who said he would refuse to leave his home, even if bulldozers showed up. "I won't be going anywhere. Not my house. This is definitely not the last word."

Scott Bullock, an attorney for the Institute for Justice representing the families, added: "A narrow majority of the court simply got the law wrong today and our Constitution and country will suffer as a result."

At issue was the scope of the Fifth Amendment, which allows governments to take private property through eminent domain if the land is for "public use."

Susette Kelo and several other homeowners in a working-class neighborhood in New London, Conn., filed suit after city officials announced plans to raze their homes for a riverfront hotel, health club and offices.

New London officials countered that the private development plans served a public purpose of boosting economic growth that outweighed the homeowners' property rights, even if the area wasn't blighted.

"We're pleased," attorney Edward O'Connell, who represents New London Development Corporation, said in response to the ruling.

The lower courts had been divided on the issue, with many allowing a taking only if it eliminates blight.

O'Connor was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Nationwide, more than 10,000 properties were threatened or condemned in recent years, according to the Institute for Justice, a Washington public interest law firm representing the New London homeowners.

New London, a town of less than 26,000, once was a center of the whaling industry and later became a manufacturing hub. More recently the city has suffered the kind of economic woes afflicting urban areas across the country, with losses of residents and jobs.

The New London neighborhood that will be swept away includes Victorian-era houses and small businesses that in some instances have been owned by several generations of families. Among the New London residents in the case is a couple in their 80s who have lived in the same home for more than 50 years.

City officials envision a commercial development that would attract tourists to the Thames riverfront, complementing an adjoining Pfizer Corp. research center and a proposed Coast Guard museum.

New London was backed in its appeal by the National League of Cities, which argued that a city's eminent domain power was critical to spurring urban renewal with development projects such Baltimore's Inner Harbor and Kansas City's Kansas Speedway.

Under the ruling, residents still will be entitled to "just compensation" for their homes as provided under the Fifth Amendment. However, Kelo and the other homeowners had refused to move at any price, calling it an unjustified taking of their property.

The case was one of six resolved by justices on Thursday. Still pending at the high court are cases dealing with the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and the liability of Internet file-sharing services for clients' illegal swapping of copyrighted songs and movies. The Supreme Court next meets on Monday.

The case is Kelo et al v. City of New London, 04-108.

Johnny Footstool
06-23-2005, 12:02 PM
Big government = bad. Big business backed by the government = good?

registerthis
06-23-2005, 12:02 PM
What an absolutely disgraceful decision by the Court.

So a millionaire developer wants to construct an office park over your neighborhood....now he can.


"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
Absolutely dead-on.

And if this decision is going to be followed to the true intent of the law, then any profits made by developers whose projects resulted in the taking of private property should be put back into the local governments, where they can be used to the benefit of the community, not to the benefit of a wealthy developer.

This is a horrible decision. :thumbdown

Roy Tucker
06-23-2005, 12:09 PM
Man oh man, the Court wimped out and passed the buck on this one. Disgraceful is spot on.

Anyone that has half a brain knows the abuse of power that goes on between cities/towns/villages and private developers. And now the Court has given them carte blanche to do whatever their greedy hearts desire. If there ever was a time to protect the little guy, this is it.

Disgraceful.

LincolnparkRed
06-23-2005, 12:16 PM
What an absolutely disgraceful decision by the Court.

So a millionaire developer wants to construct an office park over your neighborhood....now he can.


Absolutely dead-on.

And if this decision is going to be followed to the true intent of the law, then any profits made by developers whose projects resulted in the taking of private property should be put back into the local governments, where they can be used to the benefit of the community, not to the benefit of a wealthy developer.

This is a horrible decision. :thumbdown

I agree that this is probably one of the worst conclusions that the court could make. I think that your idea should be implemented in some fashion, I imagine though that in attempt to lure these new projects the city probably promised that the new tenants would be exempt from property taxes for the first couple of years.

Things like this make me nervous since because now it seems that no matter where you are living, if the city you reside in can take your property to help their friends build more buildings is just wrong.

pedro
06-23-2005, 12:18 PM
Welcome to Dick Cheney's America.

RBA
06-23-2005, 12:24 PM
Yippee. This clears the way for Disney to take over several thousands acres of ajdacent property to Disneyland and make it larger than DisneyWorld Resorts. I think Disney Corp has wanted to do this for the longest time and I'm sure their campaign contributions to the city council don't bounce.

Rojo
06-23-2005, 12:25 PM
Welcome to Dick Cheney's America.

To be fair, it was the "liberals" on the court who made this crappy decision.

I almost never agree with Scalia/Thomas/Rhenquist on anything but there ya' go.

TeamCasey
06-23-2005, 12:28 PM
Disgusting.

pedro
06-23-2005, 12:29 PM
To be fair, it was the "liberals" on the court who made this crappy decision.

I almost never agree with Scalia/Thomas/Rhenquist on anything but there ya' go.

That is a good point. It was probably an unfair comment on my part.

I'd be interested to see what the White Houses take on this is. I'm guessing silence.

Puffy
06-23-2005, 12:30 PM
Wow - I would have thought the breakdown would have went the other way (Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas being on the other side, while "liberals" and moderates being against).

Wierd decision. And horrible.

pedro
06-23-2005, 12:34 PM
Wow - I would have thought the breakdown would have went the other way (Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas being on the other side, while "liberals" and moderates being against).

Wierd decision. And horrible.

It really is. If you look at it in context to what is going on in the country as a whole it makes perfect sense, I am just surprised that anybody on the supreme court went with this.

This may have a local Ohio effect as well as I remmeber that Lakewood (outside Cleveland) was trying to take away nice houses from people b/c they didn't have a garage or air conditioning. They wanted to build new condos.

Many of these houses were much nicer than my own.

Roy Tucker
06-23-2005, 12:37 PM
To be fair, it was the "liberals" on the court who made this crappy decision.

I almost never agree with Scalia/Thomas/Rhenquist on anything but there ya' go.
Yeah, I had to read the article more than once to make sure that I had the for/against judges right. Surprised me.

If ever there was a big biz vs. little guy issue, this was it.

Rojo
06-23-2005, 12:38 PM
I'm guessing Bush is silent on this because he was part of the same kind of thing as owner of the Rangers. They took more land than needed for the park so they could put up office complexes, the original owners were forced out by state fiat.

RedsBaron
06-23-2005, 12:39 PM
To be fair, it was the "liberals" on the court who made this crappy decision.

I almost never agree with Scalia/Thomas/Rhenquist on anything but there ya' go.
Thanks for pointing that out.This decision illustrates the limits of political labels. Often many people assume that a "conservative" must always come down on one side of an issue while a "liberal" must come down on the other side. I believe that Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas were also in the minority dissenting from the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the federal government's power to prohibit the sick from using marijuana even though the state of California allowed such use.
Today's decision gives power to the politically connected. You can be sure the politically powerful will never be the ones who lose their homes to put in a business the government wants.

Rojo
06-23-2005, 12:40 PM
Wow - I would have thought the breakdown would have went the other way (Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas being on the other side, while "liberals" and moderates being against).

I would've expect that a consensus of liberals (economic justice) and conservatives (property rights) would've ruled correctly.

Joseph
06-23-2005, 12:54 PM
I can't see this one not being changed sooner rather than later.

NYMoose
06-23-2005, 01:04 PM
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," she wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

If they came to remove me from my property...all hell would break loose. It would be pretty :angry:

M2
06-23-2005, 01:08 PM
Big government = bad. Big business backed by the government = good?

My thoughts exactly. I'm as liberal as they come, but the lefties really blew it on this one.

IIRC, this decision's going to have ramifications for Zombie's neck of the woods.

registerthis
06-23-2005, 01:12 PM
To be fair, it was the "liberals" on the court who made this crappy decision.

I almost never agree with Scalia/Thomas/Rhenquist on anything but there ya' go.
Yeah I thought the same thing. The Justices who supported this awful decision tended to be of the more liberal sort.

like I said, disgraceful. Shame on them.

Rojo
06-23-2005, 01:25 PM
I believe that Scalia, Rehnquist and Thomas were also in the minority dissenting from the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the federal government's power to prohibit the sick from using marijuana even though the state of California allowed such use.

Actually Scalia voted with the majority on that one. Rehnquist, Thomas and O'Connor dissented.

That's part-and-parcel about what I dislike about Scalia. He's the biggest pseudo-intellectual blowhard on the bench yet he consistently votes like a Republican lawmaker -- not like the principled "constructionist" he claims to be. He's for state's rights except when its something he doesn't like (Gonzalez v Raitch). He's against "activist courts" except when he wants to intervene (Bush v Gore).

But, at least he was consistent (and right) on this one.

KronoRed
06-23-2005, 01:27 PM
I'm moving to North Dakota where nobody wants any property

Horrible HORRIBLE decision.

registerthis
06-23-2005, 01:29 PM
So, where do we go from here?

The article said that States can implement laws protecting homeowners when they are being 'overly burdened' (whatever that means--seems to me taking your house so a developer can build a strip mall is overly burdened, but what do I know?)

It's frightening to think what this decision could result in during the next 5-10 years.

westofyou
06-23-2005, 01:30 PM
If they came to remove me from my property...all hell would break loose. It would be pretty

Now my grandaddy died in the room he was born in
Twenty-three summers ago
But I could have sworn he was beside me this morning
When the sheriff showed up at my door
So don't you come around here with your auctioneer man
'Cause you can have the machines but you ain't taking my land

registerthis
06-23-2005, 01:33 PM
I agree that this is probably one of the worst conclusions that the court could make. I think that your idea should be implemented in some fashion, I imagine though that in attempt to lure these new projects the city probably promised that the new tenants would be exempt from property taxes for the first couple of years.
Shoot, I'm not talking about property tax revenue--I'm talking about profit from the developer's pocket. If the only types of projects that would fall under this decision would be those that would present a "great benefit to the community at large", let's make the developers follow through on that and take any profits earned from such deals and apply them to municipal tax revenue.

After all, if the developer is only concerned about the overall benefit of the community, he should have no problems putting the profits he made tearing down people's homes BACK to the community.

Redsfaithful
06-23-2005, 01:37 PM
We need some kind of farmer's revolt. That'll learn 'em.

westofyou
06-23-2005, 01:39 PM
We need some kind of farmer's revolt. That'll learn 'em.

Kinda like the Whiskey Rebellion right?

Chip R
06-23-2005, 01:44 PM
My thoughts exactly. I'm as liberal as they come, but the lefties really blew it on this one.

IIRC, this decision's going to have ramifications for Zombie's neck of the woods.Yeah. Norwood people had/have a similar case.

Redsfaithful
06-23-2005, 01:45 PM
Kinda like the Whiskey Rebellion right?

Something more successful ideally. Although I suppose defining success in these matters is kind of difficult.

RosieRed
06-23-2005, 02:23 PM
Yeah. Norwood people had/have a similar case.

They've already torn down all the houses and other buildings in that area of Norwood. Now it's just an ugly lot of empty land, waiting for a new Crate & Barrell, or whatever other ridiculous store shows up there.

Not that this decision would've helped the home owners anyway. (Obviously.) There were a few of them who fought until the bitter end though.

I think this decision is absurd and appalling.

Roy Tucker
06-23-2005, 02:24 PM
Yeah. Norwood people had/have a similar case.
Yeppir.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&rls=GGLD%2CGGLD%3A2004-17%2CGGLD%3Aen&biw=951&q=%22rookwood+exchange%22+site%3Awww.enquirer.com

RedsBaron
06-23-2005, 02:51 PM
Actually Scalia voted with the majority on that one. Rehnquist, Thomas and O'Connor dissented.


Thanks for the info. I'm disaapointed to learn Scalia blew (no pun intended) the marijuana case.

Dom Heffner
06-23-2005, 02:58 PM
I'm disaapointed to learn Scalia blew (no pun intended) the marijuana case.



With the exception of today, I can't think of a single time I agreed with the man.

Michael Allred
06-23-2005, 04:52 PM
I think this raises the strong possibility of seeing more Waco-like situations, only with the reasons being "This is MY home and you ain't taking it!"

Couldn't Congress pass a law barring this kind of nonsense?

Playadlc
06-23-2005, 05:33 PM
A huge loss today in private property rights. Hard to believe that property rights guaranteed by the Constitution can so easily be taken away.

KronoRed
06-23-2005, 05:34 PM
Couldn't Congress pass a law barring this kind of nonsense?

The deep pocket developers who will benefit from this will throw some of that cash to our elected officials.

Yahoo.

Unassisted
06-23-2005, 06:05 PM
Hopefully, this will inspire people to pay more attention than usual when the next Supreme Court seat opens up.

RedsBaron
06-23-2005, 07:02 PM
Hopefully, this will inspire people to pay more attention than usual when the next Supreme Court seat opens up.
Maybe, but, as I noted above, conservative and liberal labels won't necessarily inform the debate. Of the three dissenters, Thomas and Rehnquist make up part of the conservative wing and O'Connor is a moderate swing vote, but Scalia is also part of the conservative wing and he voted with the majority.
The rest of the majority included Kennedy, another swing vote, and the four justices who usually make up the liberal wing.
By the way, I fully expect someone to post that from their perspective all nine justices are conservative. I'm grouping them in accordance with how they usually vote. For example, compared to each other Thomas is a conservative and Ginsberg is a liberal. This doesn't mean they won't vote together sometimes or that one is always right and the other wrong.

WVRed
06-23-2005, 07:38 PM
Here will be the no 1 beneficiary of this new ruling-

http://mak.ec.kansai-u.ac.jp/hirose/images/2Wal-Mart%20Supercenter%20Night.JPG

I fully expect Wal-Marts to spring up all over Kentucky and states that blocked this type of nonsense.

Reds4Life
06-23-2005, 08:38 PM
The good news is perhaps Congress can do something about this with new legislation, it seems BOTH Republicans and Democrats aren't very happy with this decision. Instead of working on an amendment to ban flag burning perhaps we should be working on redefining eminent domain and private property rights.

SteelSD
06-23-2005, 08:48 PM
A truly disgusting decision and, IMHO, not at all in the spirit of the Constitution. I'm cringing at the thought of showdowns between homeowners who will not accept their personal property being stolen by their local governments and the police that must enforce the law. That's scary to me because we're all raised on the concept that people have a right to defend their personal property. With force.

And I think the idea that money is the "make right" is ludicrous. Just about everything has it's price, but capitalism tells us that WE get to choose that price for our property (not even considering the concept that we may not want to sell)- not the city, not the state, and not some developer who's going to be trying to give us as little as possible to shoo us out the door while we get to face a reactionary price increase caused by new supply/demand dynamic.

I'm not sure if there's any current legislation that covers it, but if not then push your government officials at all levels to introduce legislation that forces developers to pay through the nose for property in these scenarios. Make it EXPENSIVE to take property away without consent. You want my house? Ok. I'll take 200% of the market value determined by a neutral arbiter and thanks for paying all costs associated with my having to move. Much appreciated.

A residual downside of that decision is going to be the downswing of property values near areas perceived to be open to development. It'll impact home owners beyond just losing their houses. Ironically, this will lower the amount of property tax revenue being generated by cities now using the tax collection excuse as a way to step on their residents' collective throat.

That being said, I think everyone should do everything they can to influence their local government officials. Make this a real election issue locally and nationally. Find out about the zoning laws in your town. If you're looking to buy, research trends and possibly avoid places near areas that appear open to commercial development. Understand how your local government behaves when faced with similar situations. Attend council meetings. Ask them questions in a public forum like that. Get their answers on the record. Call your local newspaper. Make people understand.

creek14
06-23-2005, 08:57 PM
The good news is perhaps Congress can do something about this with new legislation, it seems BOTH Republicans and Democrats aren't very happy with this decision.
Cept they are all too busy tinkling in each others Cheerios to actually do something to help the little people.

LoganBuck
06-23-2005, 11:21 PM
I am really hot about this one. As a farmer, I know many people who have had their land and farms taken from them, by local governments so they can put up vacant industrial parks. I am friends with some farmers in Missouri outside of Springfield that successfully fought a bogus immenient domain case. It was national news as the American Farm Bureau was behind them. I hope this doesn't put them back in jeopardy.

cincinnati chili
06-23-2005, 11:32 PM
"nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation..." (5th Amendment)

My first inclination is to agree with the Supreme Court's decision. Follow me here: elected officials, rightly or wrongly, determined that it was in the public's best interest to tear down some houses and redevelop the area. The government offered the homeowners market value and 90% of them took it. While it would suck to be forced to move out of a house that you wanted to stay in, it seems perfectly legal to me.

Eminent domain is rarely used, and there are checks and balances to prevent it from being overused. If the citizens of this jurisdiction disagree with this move, they can elect officials with different values. I know nothing about New London, CT other than hearsay. I don't know if this "redevelopment" was really needed, but don't think it's unconstitutional for a properly-elected government to make that decision.

This is a Socialist Country when it needs to be. Your private property only belongs to you until your elected representatives decide that the country is better off if we buy it from you. It's always been that way.

M2
06-23-2005, 11:58 PM
chili, this isn't about the government taking my property for civic enhancement (e.g. a new hospital or a transportation project). It's about the government taking my property for private developers. It's about the ability of a corporation to use its money and influence to convince the government to swipe entire city sections and hand them over.

The best part of the boondoggle is the whole fair market value part of it. They always claim to pay well above the current market value for the land, yet it's still a pittance compared to what the value of the land will be after the redevelopment. If that land was held by Corporation X you can be sure it would get a healthy share of that future value.

This is just a way for a developer to grab some land without having to negotiate.

cincinnati chili
06-24-2005, 12:42 AM
chili, this isn't about the government taking my property for civic enhancement (e.g. a new hospital or a transportation project). It's about the government taking my property for private developers. It's about the ability of a corporation to use its money and influence to convince the government to swipe entire city sections and hand them over.

The best part of the boondoggle is the whole fair market value part of it. They always claim to pay well above the current market value for the land, yet it's still a pittance compared to what the value of the land will be after the redevelopment. If that land was held by Corporation X you can be sure it would get a healthy share of that future value.

This is just a way for a developer to grab some land without having to negotiate.

M2: I need to read the decision. However, I was under the impression that in this particular case the holdouts weren't quibbling with the amount of money that they were offered. They didn't want to move, at any price.

I agree that there is a possibility for abuse here. But my first inclination is still to say that this is constitutional.

I don't think eminent domain should be used just to put up a Home Depot. But if it's a large-scale project along the lines of Harbor Place in Baltimore, that's different. In my opinion, Baltimore attracts tourism and new money into the region, as a result of eminent domain being exercised there (even if certain private business owners got rich off it).

DoogMinAmo
06-24-2005, 02:27 AM
They've already torn down all the houses and other buildings in that area of Norwood. Now it's just an ugly lot of empty land, waiting for a new Crate & Barrell, or whatever other ridiculous store shows up there.

Not that this decision would've helped the home owners anyway. (Obviously.) There were a few of them who fought until the bitter end though.

I think this decision is absurd and appalling.

The most disgusting thing was they tore down every house but THREE, under the pretense that it was a blighted community, even though it was a very healthy neighborhood. Well, now it is a huge wasteland surrounding these three houses, so any case they had before about not living in blight was thrown out the window. Go figure. I hope they still make out ok.

PickOff
06-24-2005, 04:04 AM
My initial reaction to this was decision was very negative, any decision or law that holds a strong likelyhood of increasing the disparity in wealth in this country makes me want to hurl, scream, and shake to death the dunderheads that don't understand or just don't care, but the ruling here is that the decision (as to what will be of use to the public) is local or by state. I don't think it is unconstitutional.

The liberals voted pro government, and the conservatives pro property, with the exception of O'Conner who looked at the practical result of the ruling (that is the way she usually decides) and came to the conclusion that the rich would just get richer here with less obstacles. I agree with her in her dissent, but I guess it is just in our hands now. The problem, as aways, comes down to campaign finance and hence the lack of trust we put in our representatives (and rightly so).

I have no answers to this delimma, but it is a shame that we can't trust our public officials to look out for all the public and not just those that line their pockets or fill their campaign coffers. But in order for that to change we need to see a shift in values in America. It should not all be about the individual gains and self preservation, but about the collective good, not the expansion of individual rights that help the few and hurt the whole, but the protection of individual rights that create an even playing field. Our version of capitalism has failed us in this regard, and taught us how to look out for number #1 only and at all times.

Of course, at some point you hurt yourself if you keep that narrow focus, because you need the healthy whole, but we are on the road toward self destruction, we are going downhill in an eighteen wheeler and we keep forgetting to check the breaks. We are dangerously close to the point of no return.

WMR
06-24-2005, 04:50 AM
Grease the right palms, make the right campaign contributions, and a wily entrepreneur can construct that shopping plaza that he always knew would be SOOO profitable for THAT exact area.

The construction of the plaza will involve displacing fifty families??

Too bad. My elected officials know what's best.

When the governent exercises imminent domain for works that will benefit the public good such as roads, schools, highways, etc. etc., then they are doing the work of government. Maybe someone's land will become more valuable with the construction of the new road etc. etc. etc. but these land seizures are not, in and of themselves, giving a private individual preferential treatment. Nor do these instances of imminent domain allow for private individuals and corporations to use these governmental land seizures--in and of themselves--as a means to accomplishing an end.

Allowing local city officials to seize private property with the express goal in mind of turning it over to a private developer creates a situation where graft will inevitably play a huge role in governmental officials deciding what needs to be done in "the best interest of the community."

This is a miscarriage of justice and is a very un-American ruling.

registerthis
06-24-2005, 09:37 AM
I'm not sure if there's any current legislation that covers it, but if not then push your government officials at all levels to introduce legislation that forces developers to pay through the nose for property in these scenarios. Make it EXPENSIVE to take property away without consent. You want my house? Ok. I'll take 200% of the market value determined by a neutral arbiter and thanks for paying all costs associated with my having to move. Much appreciated.
Unfortunately, eminent domain doesn't work that way. Developers would likely challenge any such rule in the Courts, and they would likely prevail. There are already regulations in place for eminent domain takings that taken truly *are* for public purposes, such as a highway or a park. The State is only obligated to pay the Fair Market Value for the property. The property owner can have their own appraiser come out, and the State and the property owner can fight it out in Court over whose appraisal is more accurate, but at the end of the day the property owner loses his/her property every time.

Now that the Sup. Court has ruled that takings by private companies for development can *also* be for public interest and for the public good, they will fall under the same laws and regulations afforded state, local and municipal governments. To have two different standards would be a contradiction.

What NEEDS to happen is for Congress to essentially call out the Court on this issue as being complete BS. Then you might get something accomplished.

registerthis
06-24-2005, 09:51 AM
M2: I need to read the decision. However, I was under the impression that in this particular case the holdouts weren't quibbling with the amount of money that they were offered. They didn't want to move, at any price.
Well....so what? The development in question isn't a "public use" project, as such, the property owners are (were?) under no obligation to sell. The developer can try every sweetheart deal imaginable, but in the end if the property owners decided that they wanted to remain, then too bad for the developer. Until this decision, private property owners were under no obligation to sell to private developers.


I agree that there is a possibility for abuse here. But my first inclination is still to say that this is constitutional.
Had this been a public project--a highway, a park, a hospital, a library, etc. the gov't could have stepped in and claimed the property via eminant domain. That would have been Constitutional. What THIS decision does is pave the way for governments to declare areas "economically blighted", and make the determination that a private development would best enhance the area. Putting aside the fact that the developer would be profiting from a development that caused untold number of people to lose their homes, this decision opens the door for all kinds of malfeasance by developers seeking to get a long-delayed project built by having local government declare a "blighted" area.


I don't think eminent domain should be used just to put up a Home Depot. But if it's a large-scale project along the lines of Harbor Place in Baltimore, that's different. In my opinion, Baltimore attracts tourism and new money into the region, as a result of eminent domain being exercised there (even if certain private business owners got rich off it).
But this decision does exactly that: It opens doors for the Home Deppots and Wal Marts of the world to step in and build where previously they could not--on land owned by the developer, NOT the government.

With regards to Harbor Place in Baltimore, that is not a perfect example, because the City of Baltimore owns all of the land in the Harbor Place area. Yes, private development has occured on it, but it's akin to taking property to build a sports stadium--a private ownership group may operate the team(s) that play there, but frequently the local municipality owns the stadium and sorrounding grounds. Both of those types of examples could fall under the definition of "public use." (Note, if the stadium was privately financed, or had Harbor Place been developed strictly through a private developer, then the rules of eminent domain would still apply.)

RosieRed
06-24-2005, 12:54 PM
The most disgusting thing was they tore down every house but THREE, under the pretense that it was a blighted community, even though it was a very healthy neighborhood. Well, now it is a huge wasteland surrounding these three houses, so any case they had before about not living in blight was thrown out the window. Go figure. I hope they still make out ok.

I noticed there were still a couple buildings there, but I can't find anything that says why those buildings are still there. Do you happen to know? Are those property owners who are still fighting eminent domain? And the developer decided to just go ahead and tear down all the other places, maybe in hopes of forcing those people out? (For what it's worth, I thought the eminent domain cases had been decided, and that the developer had control over all the properties now. But I could totally be wrong.)

The "blight" designation really bothered me as well. There are certainly parts of Norwood that can rightfully be termed "blighted," but I didn't think that was one of them. But hey, if you don't have central air and you don't live on a wide street, I guess now that means you live in a blighted area.

The same developer who is doing the Rookwood Exchange also got a group of homes in Lakewood, OH declared blighted for another development he's doing up there ... many of them because they didn't have three bedrooms, two baths, and an attached two-car garage.

Roy Tucker
06-24-2005, 01:33 PM
Linda Greenlaw at the NY Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/23/politics/23wire-scotus.html?ex=1119758400&en=021af94dd742e300&ei=5070
Decision text - http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=04-108&friend=nytimes
Background - http://nytimes.findlaw.com/supreme_court/docket/2004/february.html#04-108

flyer85
06-24-2005, 01:49 PM
Welcome to Dick Cheney's America.This is welcome to judicial activism and a living constitutions America.

flyer85
06-24-2005, 01:53 PM
chili, this isn't about the government taking my property for civic enhancement (e.g. a new hospital or a transportation project). It's about the government taking my property for private developers. It's about the ability of a corporation to use its money and influence to convince the government to swipe entire city sections and hand them over.

The best part of the boondoggle is the whole fair market value part of it. They always claim to pay well above the current market value for the land, yet it's still a pittance compared to what the value of the land will be after the redevelopment. If that land was held by Corporation X you can be sure it would get a healthy share of that future value.

This is just a way for a developer to grab some land without having to negotiate.there's nothing to stop the developers from buying each individual parcel of land on their own. That's the way it is supposed to be done.

flyer85
06-24-2005, 01:55 PM
Wow - I would have thought the breakdown would have went the other way (Rhenquist, Scalia and Thomas being on the other side, while "liberals" and moderates being against).
Not surprising at all, to the constructionists "public use" actually means public use.

flyer85
06-24-2005, 01:59 PM
Yeah I thought the same thing. The Justices who supported this awful decision tended to be of the more liberal sort.

like I said, disgraceful. Shame on them.For those who consider themselves "liberal" this is just the chicken coming home to roost.

To paraphrase Holmes - "the law is what 5 supreme court justices say it is."

Once untethered from the original language of the constitution, judicial activists are free to interpret the constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean.l

registerthis
06-24-2005, 02:12 PM
Not surprising at all, to the constructionists "public use" actually means public use.
But "Public Use" has a definition in law, and that definition does not include private developments built solely for the profit and/or gain of a developer.

flyer85
06-24-2005, 02:15 PM
But "Public Use" has a definition in law, and that definition does not include private developments built solely for the profit and/or gain of a developer.exactly. Certainly a "private development" is not "public use".

registerthis
06-24-2005, 02:24 PM
exactly. Certainly a "private development" is not "public use".
No, it wouldn't be...before, however the decision states that a government can *deem* a private development to be for public use if the development, in the opinion of the council, significantly improves, either structurally or economically, a blighted or decaying area. It sets a very bad precedent--you want to put that Wal-Mart up, well we'll declare the area blighted, you can build yoour store...just make sure the kick backs find their way into my bank account.

Scary stuff! :thumbdown

zombie-a-go-go
06-24-2005, 02:55 PM
exactly. Certainly a "private development" is not "public use".

Unless the purpose is to generate greatly-needed tax revenue for a city that is in danger of going under. That's the situation in Norwood. Norwood can't expand physically because it's hemmed in on all sides by Cincinnati, and the city is in a serious money crunch. There are streets with potholes deep enough to bury Hoffa in that haven't been repaired in three years, overcrowded classrooms (though that's the story everywhere), poor police presence, etc. Norwood desperately needs that tax income; I believe the city's been operating in the red for a couple of years now, though I'd have to check to be sure.

Anyway, yeah, it sucks, especially for the homeowners. But in a situation where it's tough luck to the few for the greater good of the many, that's how you get away with labeling it "public use."

I was all for the development in Norwood at this time last year because of the gain to the city as a whole, gains that would benefit me and everyone else in the city (save, again, those hapless 30 or so homeowners), but as time as passed I'm starting to lean the other way.

registerthis
06-24-2005, 03:45 PM
Anyway, yeah, it sucks, especially for the homeowners. But in a situation where it's tough luck to the few for the greater good of the many, that's how you get away with labeling it "public use."

I was all for the development in Norwood at this time last year because of the gain to the city as a whole, gains that would benefit me and everyone else in the city (save, again, those hapless 30 or so homeowners), but as time as passed I'm starting to lean the other way.
If an area is truly blighted, as it sounds Norwood is, then I understand the need for it. It happened at Ohio State with the Campus Gateway project.

But this decision, I'm afraid, will open the door for governments to declare neighborhoods "blighted" that are truly anything but in the name of awarding a project to a deep-pocketed developer.

I'm not inherently opposed to the taking of private property when it truly *does* benefit the public good--but this decision opens up a lot of doors for abuse, that is what concerns me.

M2
06-24-2005, 04:05 PM
If an area is truly blighted, as it sounds Norwood is, then I understand the need for it. It happened at Ohio State with the Campus Gateway project.

But this decision, I'm afraid, will open the door for governments to declare neighborhoods "blighted" that are truly anything but in the name of awarding a project to a deep-pocketed developer.

I'm not inherently opposed to the taking of private property when it truly *does* benefit the public good--but this decision opens up a lot of doors for abuse, that is what concerns me.

Agreed. I'd like to think any such action would stipulate the taken land remain public property (like with the Baltimore's Harbor Place). It's this business of giving the land to the developers so they can build retail outlets that's so skeevy.

Roy Tucker
06-24-2005, 04:17 PM
Defining blight is the tricky part. The houses in Norwood were perfectly fine homes, well-maintained by God-fearing people getting a regular paycheck. Maybe they weren't 10000 sq. ft. 'burb homes, but when driving past them, the word "blight" certainly wouldn't come to mind.

It's easy for me to say that if they were my homes, I'd see the steamroller coming over the horizon and would take the money and run. But the sodbuster in me starts to raise his hackles (and shotgun) and I'm not exactly sure how I'd feel about the whole thing.

In a way, I can understand the Supreme Court's stance. Who are they to say what is and is not in the public good for any particular area? They basically said it was up to the individual area to make laws regarding this stuff. It's up to us to ensure local and state legislatures pass strict rules on the use of eminent domain.

But I've seen enough of city/town/local government to know how things really work. Most municipalities are revenue-hungry.

It's like the trend I've seen in some neighborhoods that are close to ours. There are some 30-40 yr. old homes that are perfectly fine homes, but they're kinda dinky and don't fit the current McMansion profile of our area. Developers buy them up, bulldoze them down, and build 5000 sq. ft. $700K homes instead.

westofyou
06-24-2005, 04:23 PM
Defining blight is the tricky part. The houses in Norwood were perfectly fine homes, well-maintained by God-fearing people getting a regular paycheck. Maybe they weren't 10000 sq. ft. 'burb homes, but when driving past them, the word "blight" certainly wouldn't come to mind.

Back in the late 60's my mother had a friend who would go to the Victorians in downtown Detroit that were being razed and steal the ornamentals, bannisters, mantles, doors, windows... the whole schmeil.
She had a cool house too.

RosieRed
06-24-2005, 04:50 PM
If anyone is interested, you can see all the properties that were declared blighted in that area of Norwood here (http://www.norwoodblight.com/images/block_photos_pa/index.htm).

Most of the businesses shown are still there, but other businesses were bought/seized and torn down.

pedro
06-24-2005, 05:06 PM
If anyone is interested, you can see all the properties that were declared blighted in that area of Norwood here (http://www.norwoodblight.com/images/block_photos_pa/index.htm).

Most of the businesses shown are still there, but other businesses were bought/seized and torn down.

wow. those doesn't look partilularily blighty to me.

thanks rosie.

zombie-a-go-go
06-24-2005, 05:10 PM
If an area is truly blighted, as it sounds Norwood is, then I understand the need for it. It happened at Ohio State with the Campus Gateway project.

The thing is, I wouldn't call the area (that was seized) blighted, per se... it's that the city as a whole has run itself into the ground and feels it has nowhere else to find the monies needed to adequately fund public services.

So it's tough luck, homeowners.

Roy was right - the homes weren't exactly blighted, though I would posit that the area they were in has evolved to the point that if it were zoned today, it'd be commercial without a doubt.

registerthis
06-24-2005, 05:25 PM
More on the eminent domain discussion, courtesy of CNN.com


Eminent domain: A big-box bonanza?

Court's ruling OKed land grab for business like Target, Home Depot, CostCo, Bed Bath & Beyond
June 24, 2005: 3:20 PM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The Supreme Court may have just delivered an early Christmas gift to the nation's biggest retailers by its ruling Thursday allowing governments to take private land for business development.

Retailers such as Target (Research), Home Depot (Research) and Bed, Bath & Beyond (Research) have thus far managed to keep the "eminent domain" issue under the radar -- and sidestep a prickly public relations problem -- even as these companies continue to expand their footprint into more urban residential areas where prime retail space isn't always easily found.

Eminent domain is a legal principle that allows the government to take private property for a "public use," such as a school or roads and bridges, in exchange for just compensation.

Local governments have increasingly expanded the scope of public use to include commercial entities such as shopping malls or independent retail stores. Critics of the process maintain that local governments are too quick to invoke eminent domain on behalf of big retailers because of the potential for tax revenue generation and job creation.

The Supreme Court's decision Thursday clarified that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private and public economic development.

The ruling would seem to offer new opportunities to retailers. However, some industry watchers caution that with Thursday's decision thrusting the eminent domain issue into the national spotlight, companies using eminent domain risk a very public backlash.

Craig Johnson, president of retail consulting group Customer Growth Partners, said that retailers shouldn't interpret the high court's decision to be a green light to aggressively expand even into those neighborhoods where a big-box presence is unwelcome.

"Even with the Supreme Court's decision potentially in their favor, smart retailers would rather go into communities wearing a white hat rather than a black one," said Johnson.

The appropriate move for companies would be to selectively use eminent domain as a last resort, he said, not as a first course of action. "I think companies have learned a few lessons from Wal-Mart's public relations struggles," he said.

Where's the space crunch?
According to industry watchers, retailers face a different type of expansion problem on the East Coast versus the West Coast.

"On the West Coast, land availability takes a back seat to labor union issues and that's why Wal-Mart has consistently run into problems in California," Johnson said. "On the East Coast, because of population density it's very hard to get big open space and the zoning is more restrictive," Johnson said.

Industry consultant George Whalin said that's one reason that Target, the No. 2 retailer behind Wal-Mart, (Research) has resorted to using eminent domain to set up shop in a few East Coast markets.

Target and Wal-Mart could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Wal-Mart and Target have both been criticized for their eminent domain use," said Burt Flickinger, a consultant with the Strategic Resources Group.

Meanwhile, eminent domain opponents called the high court ruling a "big blow for small businesses."

"It's crazy to think about replacing existing successful small businesses with other businesses," said Adrian Moore, vice president of Los Angeles-based Reason Public Policy Institute, a non-profit organization opposed to eminent domain.

"There are many, many instances where we've found that the cities that agreed to eminent domain use not only destroyed local businesses but the tax revenue that the local government had hoped to generate did not come to pass," Moore said.

But at least one retail industry analyst sees things a little differently.

"Expanding for big box store is a challenge, especially in the Northeast. Therefore, retailers will have to devise a strategy for using eminent domain," said Candace Corlett, retail analyst with WSL Strategic nRetail.

"Local communities may oppose Wal-Mart and Target coming to their area but as consumers, they also want to shop at these stores and they complain when they don't have these stores nearby," she said. "The fact is that shoppers ultimately vote with their dollars and retailers are very well aware of that."

westofyou
06-24-2005, 05:31 PM
wow. those doesn't look partilularily blighty to me.

thanks rosie.

Looks like your neighborhood without plants

Unassisted
06-24-2005, 05:38 PM
It would be great if one of the outcomes of this would be that people would pay more attention to and vote in their local government elections. If you oppose unfettered development and wanton use of eminent domain, don't elect city council members who support those tactics.

The dirty little secret of most local politics is that the bulk of the campaign contributions come from developers and corporations like Wal-Mart who seek favorable zoning and minimal impediments to their projects. Unshackling eminent domain will really raise the stakes (and aforementioned contributions) in these elections.

RosieRed
06-24-2005, 05:38 PM
The thing is, I wouldn't call the area (that was seized) blighted, per se... it's that the city as a whole has run itself into the ground and feels it has nowhere else to find the monies needed to adequately fund public services.

So it's tough luck, homeowners.

Roy was right - the homes weren't exactly blighted, though I would posit that the area they were in has evolved to the point that if it were zoned today, it'd be commercial without a doubt.

RE: your first point: It's too bad that homeowners are forced to move because the city can't/hasn't managed its monies, IMO. Not the homeowners' fault.

RE: your second point, I agree. If zoned today, it'd be commercial all the way. I just wonder what will happen to the houses across the street now. (Across from the Rookwood Exchange lot.) There's quite a few apartment buildings and homes back there. Having a huge commercial lot across the street from them could, in the future, result in that area being converted into commercial use as well, IMO. Especially since the homes and buildings are very similar to the ones that were torn down (ie, "blighted").

Pedro: you're welcome for the link. One thing I should probably mention is that most of those homeowners did make a deal with the developer; only the five or so (out of 60+) that didn't had to deal with eminent domain.

zombie-a-go-go
06-24-2005, 05:41 PM
Is that side of the street Norwood or Oakley?

KronoRed
06-24-2005, 05:46 PM
Anyway, yeah, it sucks, especially for the homeowners. But in a situation where it's tough luck to the few for the greater good of the many, that's how you get away with labeling it "public use."


Give up what you have for the greater good...

Are we in Soviet Russia now? :D

I agree with Rosie, if the city is at fault why hurt the homeowners? also, why give a city that can't run itself correctly more revenue? won't this end up again being a problem in a few years when that well runs dry?

Just some thoughts, I see both sides of the issue..just stinks IMO ;)

RosieRed
06-24-2005, 05:54 PM
Is that side of the street Norwood or Oakley?

That side is Cincinnati, as far as I know, but that whole corner of land back there is going to have to change soon, IMO. Even if it's not such a sticky process as the one Norwood has gone through ... could just be a developer buying up homes and building new ones. I just don't think those homes and apartment buildings back there stand much of a chance.

pedro
06-24-2005, 06:01 PM
I'm curious as to whether the city council people/mayor etc of Norwood declared their own neighborhoods blighted and whether they considered other potential options such as disincorporating and being annexed into Cincinnati.

My guess is probably not.

zombie-a-go-go
06-24-2005, 06:07 PM
Give up what you have for the greater good...

Are we in Soviet Russia now? :D

I agree with Rosie, if the city is at fault why hurt the homeowners? also, why give a city that can't run itself correctly more revenue? won't this end up again being a problem in a few years when that well runs dry?

Just some thoughts, I see both sides of the issue..just stinks IMO ;)

Understand that I'm not defending No-Wood! but, rather, trying to see how they can reasonably call for eminent domain in this situation. When we discussed this last year I was for seizing the properties, but ... well, don't let it be said that I'm never wrong. :)

No-Wood! will never let themselves be consumed by Cincinnati, from what I "hear."

Anyway, there used to be an operative auto plant in Norwood, as well as a Ral Partha lead foundry back behind the Gardens. Those are both closed, now. The people are still here, though.

pedro
06-24-2005, 06:13 PM
No-Wood! will never let themselves be consumed by Cincinnati, from what I "hear."



Which begs the following question.

At whose pleasure does the city government serve? Their own or the citizens of Norwood?

As I haven't been in Norwood in 18 years I really don't even know how big it is (population wise) and whether firming up the tax base will help foster the survival of the city for its' other residents.

zombie-a-go-go
06-24-2005, 06:19 PM
Which begs the following question.

At whose pleasure does the city government serve? Their own or the citizens of Norwood?

As I haven't been in Norwood in 18 years I really don't even know how big it is (population wise) and whether firming up the tax base will help foster the survival of the city for its' other residents.

Like every other elected official, they serve at their own pleasure. ;)

Anyway, I've only been in No-Wood about 3 years, but it's an aging community - I'd say the median age is around 45 or so. That's not actual-factual, just my own estimate, which could be wildly offbase.

KronoRed
06-24-2005, 06:23 PM
I'm curious as to whether the city council people/mayor etc of Norwood declared their own neighborhoods blighted and whether they considered other potential options such as disincorporating and being annexed into Cincinnati.

My guess is probably not.
I wonder if they even live in Norwood ;)

RosieRed
06-24-2005, 06:28 PM
I'm curious as to whether the city council people/mayor etc of Norwood declared their own neighborhoods blighted and whether they considered other potential options such as disincorporating and being annexed into Cincinnati.

My guess is probably not.

From this (http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/06/15/loc_loc1ablight.html) article:

City council commissioned a study of the neighborhood, later using that study as a basis to declare the property blighted and deteriorating.

Here's the beginning of that article. Pretty interesting, in light of the SCOTUS decision:


By Sharon Coolidge and Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

After two years of fighting to stay in their Norwood neighborhood, five home and business owners must move, a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge ruled Monday.

Judge Beth Myers said the city of Norwood could take their homes and businesses through eminent domain, paving the way for the city to transfer the property to Anderson Real Estate and Miller-Valentine Group.

The developers want to expand Rookwood Commons and build Rookwood Exchange, a $125 million complex of offices, shops, living units and restaurants.

"Granted, the developer had great control over much of the process," Myers wrote in the 38-page decision. "Nonetheless, the city at all times retained its rights and power of eminent domain. While the court does have concerns about the amount of control given to the developer, it is not for this court to substitute its judgment for Norwood in its dealings with third parties."

Although she sides with the city, Myers chastised the city, saying it abused its discretion in designating the property blighted.

The property might be deteriorating, the judge said, but it does not fit the city's definition of blighted as outlined in city laws.